World Bulletin / News Desk
Belgium has asked Turkey to help in its efforts to prevent Belgian nationals from illegally crossing into Syria to fight alongside opposition forces trying to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
“We are in close cooperation with Turkey on this issue and we have asked them for additional monitoring [of border crossings],” Joelle Milquet, Belgium's deputy prime minister and interior minister, said during a radio interview on Saturday. She said she was planning to travel to Turkey for further talks on the matter.
Milquet's remarks come amid growing media attention on Belgian youth secretly traveling to Syria to join anti-regime fighters there, upsetting their families in most cases. The Belgian government has taken some measures to prevent such travels, introducing restrictions on traveling to Turkey for teenagers younger than 16. Particularly those youth living in neighborhoods populated by Moroccan immigrants are reported to be under increased police scrutiny.
Turkey has received hundreds of thousands of Syrians who have fled the civil war in their country and is a major supporter of the opposition forces trying to topple the Assad regime. Assad accuses Turkey of allowing foreign fighters and arms to cross into Syria, a charge Turkey denies.
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