A criminal court in The Hague delivered a historic verdict on Monday, convicting a member of the al-Quds Brigade, a Palestinian militia associated with the forces of the Assad regime, for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. The case marks the first of its kind in the Netherlands.
As reported by the correspondent of Syria TV, the Dutch judiciary sentenced Mustafa al-Dahoudi, a former member of the Quds Brigade militia, to a 12-year prison term.
This landmark trial represents the first instance in the Netherlands of prosecuting an individual accused of involvement with the Syrian regime in war crimes. Prosecutors detailed Dahoudi’s significant role within the Quds Brigade militia, primarily composed of Palestinian refugees in Syria, which was established during the early years of the Syrian revolution.
During the initial court proceedings, the judges cited witness accounts indicating that the accused played a prominent role in the Quds Brigade, actively participating in the arrest and brutal torture of civilians. Witnesses provided harrowing details of the beatings and torture suffered by individuals in prison.
Despite repeated inquiries about the charges, his responses, and evidence presented through police investigations and intercepted phone calls, the defendant consistently invoked his right to remain silent on every question.
What is the story of the accused?
The individual, apprehended in 2023 following a legal complaint filed by the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, had been residing in the Netherlands since 2020 and had sought asylum there.
The complaint dossier submitted by the center presented a comprehensive set of evidence establishing that the suspect had committed various violations amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity. This evidence included five testimonies, three of which were from direct victims of the suspect’s actions.
According to testimonies and victim accounts documented by PCHR (Palestinian Center for Human Rights), the accused is identified as a Palestinian-Syrian resident of the al-Neirab refugee camp in Aleppo, born in 1988, with a limited educational background and involvement in construction. Since the onset of the Syrian demonstrations in 2011, he has been implicated in suppressing protesters, employing weapons, and using live ammunition against them.
In his capacity as a group leader within the Quds Brigade, he played a role in the forceful entry and arrest of civilians in their homes, often accompanied by joint patrols from Military Security and Air Force Intelligence. Subsequently, these individuals were transported to Neirab Airport Prison and the Military Academy, where they faced severe torture.
Who is the Quds Brigade?
The Quds Brigade was established in October 2013 in Aleppo by engineer Muhammad al-Saeed, with support from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Its formation resulted from the amalgamation of the “Lions of al-Quds Battalion” and the “Deterrence Battalion,” which the Syrian regime heavily relied on to safeguard the Neirab military airport adjacent to Aleppo International Airport.
The militia gained prominence beyond Aleppo’s borders in mid-2018 when it actively participated in battles to control the Syrian desert, particularly against the Islamic State.
Subsequently, the Quds Brigade expanded its presence to the Yarmouk camp south of the capital Damascus and the Raml camp in the city of Lattakia. Additionally, it established headquarters in the central region, serving as staging and supply centers for its forces operating in the Syrian desert and extending to Deir-ez-Zor.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.