The Syrian troopers detained dozens of foreign officers in the restive al-Qusseir region, sources said on Tuesday, adding that most of the detainees were from France, Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Qatar.
Assim Qansou, a representative of the socialist party in Lebanon’s parliament, told the Lebanese al-Nashrah newspaper that during the battle in al-Qusseir city, the Syrian army has arrested tens of French, British, Belgian, Dutch and Qatari officers.
The EU’s anti-terror chief said in April that hundreds of Europeans are now fighting with rebel forces in Syria against Bashar al-Assad’s government.
Gilles de Kerchove estimated the number in Syria at about 500.
Intelligence agencies are concerned some could join groups linked to al-Qaeda and later return to Europe to launch terrorist attacks.
The UK, Ireland and France are among the EU countries estimated to have the highest numbers of fighters in Syria.
“Not all of them are radical when they leave, but most likely many of them will be radicalized there, will be trained,” de Kerchove said.
“And as we’ve seen this might lead to a serious threat when they get back.”
Across Europe, intelligence agencies have stepped up investigations, says the BBC’s Europe correspondent Duncan Crawford.