Europe

Germany arrests Syria war crimes suspect

A fighter from Syria's al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front holds his group flag as he stands in front of the governor's building in Idlib province, northern Syria Image copyright AP
Image caption The man was arrested in Duesseldorf. Pictured: An al-Nusra Front fighter

A Syrian national has been arrested in Germany accused of war crimes involving the murder of dozens of civil servants.

The man named as Abdalfatah HA is suspected of being part of a unit with an al-Qaeda-linked group formerly known as al-Nusra Front, which killed 36 Syrian government employees in 2013.

The federal prosecutors' office said the man, arrested in Duesseldorf, had carried out death sentences.

A second suspected al-Nusra fighter was arrested in the town of Giessen.

Abdulrahman AA is accused of breaking international weapons laws.

Both are thought to have been part of the same combat unit for al-Nusra, which was al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria at the time.

The group formally severed its ties to the global jihadist network last year, renaming itself Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.

In January, JFS merged with four smaller groups to form Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

German prosecutors allege Abdulrahman AA, 26, and Abdalfatah HA, 35, took part in an armed battle against Syrian government troops including taking over a big arms depot near Mahin, central Syria, in November 2013, eight months after the murders of the government employees.

Some local reports have claimed one of the men was an asylum seeker, but a spokeswoman for the prosecutors' office refused to confirm this.

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