Germany's interior minister has confirmed that German jihadists are taking part in the conflict Syria. A day earlier the EU warned that fighters, mainly from Britain, France and Ireland, were fighting the Syrian regime.
In an interview with German news site Spiegel Online, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said security officials were observing the movement of German jihadists to Syria "with great concern."
"We know that jihadists from Germany, who were being monitored by domestic authorities, have reemerged in Syria and are fighting on the side of the rebels," the interior minister said late on Wednesday.
Friedrich, a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, also expressed concern over apparent calls for the "combat-trained Europeans" to later return to their native countries in order to wage a so-called holy war.
Speculation over the presence of German jihadists in Syria had previously been left unconfirmed by government officials. Friedrich declined to put an estimate on the number of German fighters in the war-torn nation.
According to EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove, there are around 500 European Islamist militants fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. In an interview with British broadcaster the BBC on Wednesday, de Kerchove said were mainly from Britain, France and Ireland.
According to UN estimates, more than 70,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began in March 2011.
ccp/ipj (AFP, epd, dpa)