Brussels – Official figures obtained by Belgian MP Denis Ducarme and published by Brussels media outlets reported three cases of registered reentries of Belgians who returned from war-torn Syria in 2016.
The Belgians fighters – involved with extremist groups – were two females and one young male. A total of 117 people have successfully returned after engaging in combat in Syria, and are currently in Belgium.
At least 279 people are known to still be in Syria, of which 115 are suspected to have been killed, leaving 163 who might return at any given time.
More so, Belgian authorities on Thursday released 11 people arrested in a series of anti-terror raids targeting extremists who have returned from Syria, federal prosecutors said according to AFP.
The arrests took place overnight Tuesday when police searched nine houses in various areas of Brussels including Molenbeek, the district that was home to several of those involved in the Paris and Brussels attacks.
“Everybody has been released after thorough questioning,” the federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement, giving no other details.
Prosecutors had said Wednesday the 11 had been arrested as part of a probe into the “issue of possible returning Syria fighters,” adding no weapons or explosives had been found in the operations.
They said the case was completely separate from the probes into the March 22, 2016 Brussels attacks and the November 13, 2015 Paris attacks, which investigators say were hatched by the same Brussels-based terror cell.
Belgium has been on high alert since last March, when three suicide bombers attacked Brussels’ Zaventem airport and its metro system, killing 32.
Several people have been jailed in Belgium in recent years for recruiting extremists to fight for the terror group ISIS in Syria.