TEHRAN, YJC. -- Security forces in the Central Anatolian province of Konya detained 10 people yesterday on suspicions of supplying weapons and personnel to Syrian rebels fighting against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
The operation came after some families complained that their children were being recruited by a radical extremist group, leading police to launch an investigation that ultimately resulted in the detention of 10 people who were accused of funneling weapons and personnel to militants, Doğan news agency reported.
The suspects, however, claimed they were detained because they were "reading the Quran, being Muslim and aiding Syrians.” They were then taken to the anti-terror branch for further investigation.
Elsewhere in Europe, Belgian police staged dozens of early-morning raids yesterday against radical Islamists suspected of recruiting volunteers to fight al-Assad’s government.
Police carried out "46 raids essentially in Antwerp and in Vilvorde,” just outside Brussels, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office told Agence France-Presse.
An unspecified number of people suspected of "participating in the activities of a terrorist group” were detained, the spokesman said. Belgium is among several European nations concerned about the departure to Syria of hundreds of young Islamist radicals.
Authorities concerned over reports that around 80 Belgians have joined opposition fighters in Syria have vowed to take steps to prevent others from leaving.
A report released early this month by King’s College London said up to 600 people from 14 countries, including Austria, Britain, Germany, Spain and Sweden, have taken part in the Syria conflict since it began in March 2011.
The largest contingent was from Britain, but based on population, the figures for Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands were the most significant, with around 200 between them.