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Netherlands arrests suspected Syrian Al Nusra Front commander

Dutch police on Tuesday arrested a Syrian man suspected of committing war crimes as a commander of Al-Nusra Front, prosecutors said.

The 47-year-old man, identified only by his nom de guerre Abu Khuder, was detained in Kapelle in the southwestern Netherlands, the Dutch federal prosecutor said on May 21.

“The man is accused of participating in the armed struggle as a commander of a terrorist Jabhat al-Nusra battalion,” the prosecutor said in a statement, using another name for the Nusra Front.

It said he was held “on suspicion of committing war crimes and terrorist crimes in Syria,” adding that he had fought in a battalion known as Ghuraba’a Mohassan (Strangers of Mohassan).

The man has lived in the Netherlands since 2014 and was granted a temporary asylum permit, the statement said.

Police searched the suspect’s house and recovered documents, a computer and a smartphone, it said, adding that he was due to appear in court on Friday.

He was arrested based on information provided by German police, where six homes belonging to suspected members of the same battalion were raided, it added.

German police “provided witness testimonies against the suspect,” the Dutch prosecutor said.

Al-Nusra Front was allied to al-Qaeda but now says it has no ties to foreign groups. Under a new name, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, it now dominates the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance, which holds administrative control of the Syrian city of Idlib.

The arrest of the Syrian comes as the Netherlands grapples with the problem of what to do with home-grown radicals who went to fight in Syria.

At least 315 people left the Netherlands since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011 to join jihadist groups, according to Dutch media reports quoting official figures.

Around 85 have been killed in the fighting and 55 have returned.

The issue was highlighted in March when the Dutch husband of a British-born teenager who fled to join Islamic State said he wanted her to live with him in the Netherlands along with their child.

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With reporting from AFP

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