Ankara, 14 Feb/2014(AP): Several young Saudis who had gone to Syria on their own to fight alongside opposition forces have returned home. The Saudi Embassy in Turkey facilitated their return, Saudi Ambassador to Ankara Adel Mirdad said, adding: “All Saudi (fighters) who returned through Turkey were young men and did not include any women.”
Image credit: AP File photo
The ambassador put the average age of the Saudi fighters at 20 years. “This indicates that they were misguided (by extremist groups),” Mirdad said. “We received several calls from the relatives of these Saudis and we have informed them that the moment they arrive in Turkey. We will make arrangements for their travel to the Kingdom,” he added.
Mirdad emphasized his embassy’s efforts to facilitate the return of Saudi fighters. “We have clear instructions from higher authorities to provide Saudis abroad all care and support, especially for those in trouble zones,” he said. Many young Saudis had taken refuge at the embassy seeking assistance to facilitate their return to the Kingdom. According to a report carried by Al-Watan newspaper, 1,400 Saudi fighters and relief workers were in Syria. They represent a small group compared to 20,000 foreign fighters in the war-torn country, the paper said, adding that 20 percent of Saudi fighters had returned.
The number of Saudi returnees from the Syrian war zone is expected to go up drastically after a recent royal decree warning such fighters that they would face three to 20 years for taking part in conflicts abroad. (arabnews)