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Syrian tried in Austria for suspected killing of 20 Assad troops

Syrian tried in Austria for suspected killing of 20 Assad troopsA Syrian asylum seeker went on trial in Austria on Wednesday for alleged killing of 20 government soldiers fighting for President Bashar al-Assad near the city of Homs.

Austria has jailed several people for "belonging to a terrorist organization", a charge usually leveled against foreign or local fighters fighting in Syria alongside Islamic State militants.

The 27-year-old man, who was arrested in western Austria in June, faces the charge of "murder in the context of terrorism". He is accused of shooting unarmed or wounded soldiers following a battle in Homs, Syria.

But the suspect in the Innsbruck case is not accused of being a member of any outlawed militant group, the court spokesman said. It is the first case in Austria to involve the suspected killing of troops loyal to Assad.

Austrian media said the suspect told others at a refugee shelter that he had shot dead government soldiers when he was fighting with an Islamist rebel group called the Farouq Brigade.

According to reports, the suspect was placed under investigation when officials were alerted to his account of events in Syria last year. Austria is unable to extradite the man to face charges in Syria because of the ongoing civil war.
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