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Police in dawn raids on Syria-bound Muslim fighters
Belgian police today staged dozens of early-morning raids on radical Islamists suspected of recruiting volunteers to fight the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Police carried out 46 raids, “essentially in Antwerp and in Vilvoorde”, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office told AFP. An unspecified number of people suspected of “participating in the activities of a terrorist group” were detained, he added. Details will be provided at a news conference this afternoon. The prosecutor’s office said Fouad Belkacem, former spokesman for the now-defunct Sharia4Belgium, was among those arrested in Antwerp. A 38-year-old Frenchman well-known in radical Islamist circles in Belgium was killed on Sunday while fighting Assad forces as part of an Islamist brigade in Syria, a relative told Belga news agency. Raphael Gendron left for Syria several months ago to fight with the Falcons of Sham, headed by Abdelrahman Ayachi who is the son of Syrian-born radical Imam Bassam Ayachi and was wounded on Sunday, it was reported.