Spanish police on Friday detained eight people in the enclave of Ceuta on suspicion of sending jihadist fighters to Syria, the Interior Ministry said.
The network based in Ceuta and Morocco allegedly recruited potential fighters, indoctrinated them and organised their trip via Turkey to Syria, according to the Ministry and the daily El Pais.
The Ministry said the network was believed to have sent dozens of fighters to Syria, where some of them may have undergone military training or even participated in suicide attacks.
The network may have sent fighters to other countries as well, El Pais reported.
Most of the detainees were Spanish nationals. Police searched several locations.
The Spanish enclave of Ceuta, which is claimed by Morocco, has a population of around 80,000. Nearly half of them are Muslims.
Syria’s 27-month-old conflict is believed to have drawn hundreds of foreign fighters.
Rebels claim foreign arms arrival
Syrian opposition forces, meanwhile, have claimed obtaining advanced weapons, as fighting escalates.
“The qualitative weapons and ammunition have arrived and they have already been delivered to the rebels on the battlefronts inside Syria,” Louay al-Mokdad, a logistical coordinator with the rebel Free Syrian Army, told DPA.
He disclosed that a second shipment was due to be delivered to rebels in the next few days from what he called “Arab countries and other sisterly states.” He declined to give further details.
Mr. al-Mokdad said that the FSA, an umbrella group of rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad, would demand more advanced weapons at a pro-opposition meeting to be held in the Qatari capital of Doha on Saturday.
“We will raise the issue of arming the rebels with the countries that are still reluctant to do this.” Participants in Doha’s Friends of Syria talks will include the U.S. secretary of state, British foreign secretary and their counterparts from Germany, Italy, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
The United States, citing the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime, announced last week it would give arms directly to opposition forces.
The European Union has decided to lift an arms embargo on the Syrian opposition, but not before August.
Mr. Assad’s troops have in recent weeks regained several rebel-held areas, raising concerns among the opposition’s allies.
On the ground in Syria, activists said the military was shelling pro-opposition areas around the country.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the shelling attacks were targeting areas south of the capital Damascus, the eastern province of Deir al-Zour and the province of Daraa in southern Syria. No specific casualties were reported.
At least 93,000 people have been killed in Syria since March 2011, according to the United Nations.