800 Tunisian Islamists Fighting in Syria, Minister Says
Tunisian Foreign Minister Othmane Jarandi told AFP on Saturday [11 May 2013] that some 800 Tunisians are fighting in Islamist rebel ranks in Syria and said the country would work to repatriate its citizens taken prisoner there.
“We don’t have exact numbers, since several people left the country illegally, but the most accurate estimate is a maximum of 800,” fighting in Syria, he said.
Tunis has been criticized by non-government organizations and the opposition since diplomatic relations with Damascus were severed in February 2011, and has been accused of abandoning Tunisians in Syria to their fate.
“The repatriation of Tunisians can be facilitated by the embassy in Lebanon after the government makes contact with the Syrian authorities about imprisoned Tunisian citizens,” Jarandi said.
In March, an inquiry was begun into Islamist networks in Tunisia that channel fighters into the ranks of Islamist groups battling forces loyal to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The interior ministry said border controls had prevented the departure of some 1,000 Tunisians headed for Syria, where the United Nations says more than 70,000 people have been killed since the March 2011.
Local Tunisian radio station Express FM said 132 Tunisian fighters were killed in and round the northern city of Aleppo in February alone, mostly from the town of Sidi Bouzid, birthplace of the first Arab Spring uprising.
Tunisian experts say the country’s mosques play a key role in spurring young jihadists to leave for the conflict in Syria, influenced by the teachings of radical imams.
Suppressed under president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, radical Islamists have grown increasingly assertive since the mass uprising that ousted him in January 2011 and have been blamed for a wave of violence that has rocked Tunisia.
DISCLAIMER: The statements, views and opinions expressed in pieces republished here are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of TMS. In accordance with title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. TMS has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is TMS endorsed or sponsored by the originator. “GO TO ORIGINAL” links are provided as a convenience to our readers and allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted may not match the versions our readers view when clicking the “GO TO ORIGINAL” links. This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Click here to go to the current weekly digest or pick another article:
- US Blocks UN Global Ceasefire Resolution Objecting Reference to World Health Organization
- With a Distracted Public, the Pentagon Tries to Get Away with Killing Innocent Civilians
- Weapons Don't Fight Pandemics
MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA:
- Oliver Stone: USA Weaponizing COVID-19 against Venezuela and Iran
- U.S. to Block Iran’s Request to IMF for $5 Billion Loan to Fight Coronavirus
- Iranian President Rouhani Sends Message to People of the United States of America
SYRIA IN CONTEXT:
- A Perfect Storm on the Horizon
- Turkey Now Claims Syria’s Idlib Province as Turkish Territory
- NATO: From Covert Sponsor to Artillery Provider for Terrorists in Syria