Get all your news in one place
100’s of premium titles. One news app. Zero ads. Just $10 per month.
Asharq Al-Awsat

Dutch Police Arrest Suspected Syrian Pro-government Militia Member

Syrians and Palestinians living in Syria stand next to a poster depicting Syria's President Bashar al-Assad as they mark the annual al-Quds Day (Jerusalem Day), in Damascus, Syria April 29, 2022. (Reuters)

Dutch police arrested a 34-year-old man suspected of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity as a member of a pro-government, non-Shiite militia in Syria on Tuesday, the public prosecution service said.

The man, who was not named, had been living in the Netherlands since 2020 and had applied for asylum there.

It is the first time the Dutch authorities have arrested a war crimes suspect accused of fighting on the side of the government of president Bashar al-Assad during the conflict.

"The suspect is said to have been part of the pro-regime militia Liwa al-Quds, that works closely with the Syrian intelligence services and the Russian armed forces," the public prosecution service said in a statement.

The suspect was involved in the violent arrest of a Syrian citizen who was later tortured in a prison run by Syrian Air Force intelligence, according to prosecutors.

Previously the Dutch courts have convicted several Syrian nationals of war crimes who were members of opposition and extremist militias in Syria.

Such cases are prosecuted in the Netherlands under "universal jurisdiction" principles, which say suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity can be prosecuted abroad if they cannot be tried in country where they were allegedly committed.