Spain arrests 8 on suspicion of sending fighters to Syria

Spanish police in the North African enclave of Ceuta arrested eight men Friday, who were accused of recruiting fighters for a Syrian branch of Al Qaeda, according to the Interior Ministry. 

The raid by the Guardia Civil and National Police took place early Friday morning and netted eight people suspected of indoctrinating and funding potential fighters for both the Syrian conflict and conflicts in other nations, the BBC reported.

The criminal network appeared to be based both in Ceuta and in the Morroccan city of Fnideq. 

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The eight who were arrested all appeared to be Spanish said El Pais, noting that the cell "could transport people from Ceuta and Malaga to other European countries like the Netherlands or Belgium, or straight on to the Anatolian peninsula."

Some of the fighters recruited by the network appear to have been minors, while others were thought to have participated in suicide attacks or been sent to training camps, according to Reuters.

Both the National Police and Spain's Civil Guard have been investigating this case since 2009, but the joint operation was begun in 2011. 

Although Ceuta is geographically part of North Africa, it has been considered a part of Spain since 1668, when Portugal's King Afonso VI of Portugal ceded Ceuta to Carlos II of Spain. In the present day, the port is considered an "autonomous city," alongside its fellow enclave Melilla.

They are the only two European Union cities located in mainland Africa as a result.