Syrian rebel in Austria on 20 civil war murder charges

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The war-torn Syrian city of HomsImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
The suspect is said to have killed government troops in Homs

Austrian prosecutors say they have charged a Syrian rebel with 20 murders that took place in his home country.

The 27-year-old man was arrested in western Austria in June while he was staying in a refugee centre.

Austrian media said he told people at the shelter that he had shot dead wounded government soldiers when he was fighting with an Islamist rebel group called the Farouq Brigade.

A fellow Syrian reported him to officials, AFP news agency reported.

The killings are thought to have taken place in 2013 or 2014, in or around Homs, Syria's third-largest city.

Prosecutors said he initially admitted to the killings but then retracted his confession, AFP said.

Killing injured soldiers is prohibited under the Geneva Convention.

Austrian media, citing officials, said the actions qualified as terrorism and could be prosecuted under international counter-terrorism agreements.