Dutch government faces outcry over reported support for Syrian rebels

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  • Dutch government faces outcry over reported support for Syrian rebels
    https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/dutch-government-faces-outcry-after-report-over-support-syrian-rebels

    The Dutch government faced a storm of protest from lawmakers on Monday after a news report said it supported a Syrian opposition group which Dutch prosecutors had labelled a “terrorist” organisation.

    Parliamentarians demanded answers after the report aired by the national public broadcaster said the Netherlands gave “non-lethal assistance” (NLA) to 22 armed opposition groups battling Syrian government forces.

    The television programme, which worked together with the respected Trouw newspaper, identified one group as Jabhat al-Shamiya, which it said had been supplied with pick-up trucks, uniforms and other equipment last year.

    But at the same time, Dutch officials in the port city of Rotterdam were prosecuting a suspected militant for belonging to Jabhat al-Shamiya, which they labelled in court papers as a “Salafist and jihadist movement striving for a caliphate”.

    It was nothing more than a “criminal organisation with a terrorist aim”, the prosecutors added in the court papers.

    Jabhat al-Shamiya, also known as the Levant Front, is an umbrella group for Turkey-backed rebel fighters based in northern Syria. In 2016, Amnesty International accused it of carrying out summary executions and establishing courts that enforce a strict Islamic-based penal code.

    Monday’s revelations come days after Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok’s announcement that the government was cutting all support to “moderate” opposition groups.