Dutch police have arrested a Syrian man accused of committing war crimes on behalf of Assad

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THE HAGUE, The Netherlands – Dutch authorities on Tuesday arrested a 34-year-old Syrian asylum seeker on war crimes charges, the first arrest in the Netherlands of a man suspected of committing a crime in support of the Syrian government.

The man, whose name was not released by police, has been charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes in 2013 for violently detaining a civilian and handing him over to Syrian authorities who then tortured the man.

According to the Dutch Public Prosecution Service, the man was a member of the Liwa al-Quds, or Jerusalem Brigade, a group made up mostly of Palestinian fighters.

The suspect moved to the Netherlands in 2020, applied for asylum and settled in the small southern town of Kerkred. Dutch police received multiple tips about his involvement with Liwa al-Quds, which they consider a criminal organization.

The accused will be produced in the first court on Friday.

Liwa al-Quds played a key role in the Syrian government’s offensive in the northern city of Aleppo, which ended in 2016 with the occupation of rebel-held territory. The four-year war in Aleppo has left many members of the group dead or wounded and ended in a major victory for the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

This is the fifth war crimes case in the Netherlands due to the conflict in Syria. Under universal jurisdiction, the Netherlands can try certain crimes even if they occur abroad. A court in The Hague has convicted another Syrian asylum seeker, Ahmed al-K, of war crimes for executing a Syrian army soldier last year, an incident that was captured on video.

Germany is the first country to convict an Assad government official. In 2021, a Koblenz court sentenced Iyad al-Gharib, a former member of Assad’s secret police, to four and a half years in prison for crimes against humanity.

Basem Mro has contributed to Beirut.

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