Dutch gov't to carefully investigate support to Syrian groups

The government will immediately launch an investigation into the NLA program, in which the Netherlands offered "non lethal support" to the moderate armed opposition in Syria, Minister Stef Blok of Foreign Affairs said. He called it "worrying" that the Public Prosecutor labeled at least one group that received Dutch support as terrorist, AD reports.

Blok emphasized multiple times that the operation in which the opposition was supported was ended early this year. "But I do want to know what happened in those years", he said. The government will investigate all media reports about this matter, along with reports from the responsible Ministry - Foreign Affairs. "We need to map this out well. I am going to work on that in the near future." Prime Minister Mark Rutte also emphasized that the situation must first be properly investigated. 

According to Blok, the names of the groups that received support from the Netherlands were kept secret because "in an area with a terrible civil war", it could not be made known which groups were supported by Western countries. "That happened to protect human lives", he said. 

Nieuwsuur and Trouw reported that one of the organizations that received support from the Netherlands was Jabhat al-Shamiya. A Dutch man is currently being prosecuted for participating in this group. The indictment against him states that Jabhat al-Shamiya is "salafist and jihadist", "strives for the establishment of a caliphate", and "can't be otherwise qualified" than as a "criminal organization with terrorist intent".

The two news agencies said that more information will be revealed during the course of this week. The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, wants to debate this matter as soon as possible. But will first wait for all information to be released before they present written questions to Blok. Only once those questions are answered, a debate will be held. "We have to do this step by step", D66 MP Sjoerd Sjoerdsma said to AD. "If this is true, it is far from what we want with foreign policy."

Parliamentarians pointed out to AD that as the support program has been halted, any possible misconduct is not still happening.