Wales

Police fear 'radicalisation' of Wales' Syria volunteers

  • 24 April 2014
  • From the section Wales

Anti-terror police are concerned the Syria conflict is "radicalising" humanitarian volunteers from Wales.

Wales' most senior counter terrorism officer said young people going out to Syria is an "increasing problem".

Officers fear that those who go to the conflict zones will be exploited or radicalised.

And they have appealed to women, mainly in Islamic communities, to seek help if a family member is thinking about travelling to Syria.

The Syrian conflict began in 2011 when those opposing President Bashar al-Assad's rule clashed with his supporters.

Since it began there has been an increasing number of British people joining factions fighting in the country.

The number of UK-wide Syria-related arrests have risen from 25 last year to around 40 for the first three months of 2014.

The national campaign for women to intervene follows a string of deaths of men from the UK who were fighting against President Assad's regime with reports suggesting up to 20 men from Britain have died in the conflict.

South Wales Police said the number of people travelling to Syria to deliver aid and to fight is a growing issue although it has not been revealed how many people have travelled there from Wales.

Det Supt Rhiannon Kirk said: "What I would say is that even though it could initially be humanitarian - and that's what they are saying - when out there they are increasingly liable to exploitation or radicalisation.

"It's a real fear."

To combat this South Wales Police has launched its 'Prevent' programme, aimed at discouraging those thinking about travelling to Syria.

The police force is appealing to women in mainly Islamic communities to seek advice from the police if they are concerned members of their family are thinking about travelling to Syria.

A damaged car next to damaged buildings in Al-Maliha town, in the suburbs of Damascus
More than 100,000 Syrians have died in the three years the conflict has been raging

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