Switzerland recalls ambassador to Syria

Switzerland has decided to recall its ambassador to Damascus for consultations in protest at Syria's crackdown on protestors, the foreign ministry said on Thursday.

“The unacceptable behaviour of the Syrian security service has led the foreign ministry to to recall the ambassador from his post in Damascus for consultations in Bern,” the ministry said in a statement.

The foreign ministry said that it had already “made a number of public appeals to the Syrian authorities to respect fundamental rights”, adding that it “particularly deplores the large numbers of dead and wounded and offers its sincerest condolences to the victims’ families and loved ones”.  

The statement also called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to end repression immediately, halt the use of torture as well as respect freedom of opinion and for people to hold gatherings.  

The announcement of the ambassador’s recall comes only a day after Switzerland widened sanctions against Assad’s regime, adding 12 individuals to a list of key players under financial embargo and travel restriction.  

Bern had already blocked assets worth 27 million francs ($34 million) belonging to Assad and 22 other individuals.

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Swiss woman stands trial for attempting to join Islamic State

A 31-year-old woman from Winterthur who tried to travel to Syria to join Islamic State (IS) is standing trial under Swiss anti-terror laws.

Swiss woman stands trial for attempting to join Islamic State
The federal criminal court in Bellinzona. Photo: Swiss Confederation/OFCL

The alleged ‘jihadi tourist' appeared before Switzerland's federal criminal court in Bellinzona on Friday, the Swiss news agency SDA reported. 

In December 2015, the woman, accompanied by her four-year-old child, attempted to travel to Syria via Greece and Turkey in order to join IS, the authorities allege. 

Her intended destination was Raqqa, which was at the time an IS stronghold in Syria.

The woman was prevented from continuing her journey by the Greek authorities and was arrested at Zurich airport on her return to Switzerland in January 2016. 

The Swiss attorney general's office filed an indictment against the Swiss national for offences under the federal law that bans terror groups including Isis. 

According to the indictment, the woman radicalized herself through internet propaganda after converting to Islam in 2009.

It says the Swiss national believed it was the duty of all Muslims to support IS.

She said she rejected western values.

This is only the second case concerning a so-called ‘jihadi tourist' to go before Switzerland's federal criminal court. 

The first prosecution of its kind took place in 2016, when a 26-year-old man was found guilty of attempting to travel to join Isis and given an 18-month suspended jail sentence.

Islamic State has been banned in Switzerland since 2014.