Eleven people, two of them Czech nationals, left the country in the course
of last year to join Islamic State militants in Syria, according to an
internal security report released by the Interior Ministry.
In the wake of the defeat of IS, the Czech authorities also noted an unspecified number of IS supporters who attempted to return to different parts of Europe via the Czech Republic. This is considered a grave security risk for the continent and European intelligence services are cooperating closely to minimize the risk.
Czechs have been in the forefront of worldwide attempts to save Syria’s significant archaeological heritage. The Czech National Museum has been one of the major players in those moves and on Wednesday it opened an exhibition in Prague outlining what has been lost and what has been saved during the country’s civil war.
The air strikes against military targets in Syria carried out by US, UK and France in the wake of a recent chemical attack on civilians in the Syrian city of Douma have divided the Czech political scene. While the government endorsed the attack, the president and some opposition parties denounced it as aggressive and unacceptable.
Leading members of the right-wing opposition have criticised prime minister
in resignation Andrej Babiš, alleging he was flip-flopping or
backpedalling on the strike against Syria by US, British and French forces.
On Saturday, the prime minister said the strike had been inevitable but a day later, after a meeting with the president, he suggested that the strike had resolved nothing.
During a work visit to the region of Karlovy Vary on Monday, he then called the threat of additional strikes a deterrent against the use of chemical weapons.
The apparent changes in his stance drew fire from long-time political rival Miroslav Kalousek of TOP 09, who suggested he could respect someone with a differing but firm position but not a politician who - in his view - changed his mind one day to the next.
The United States have thanked the Czech Republic for supporting the
strikes on Syria carried out by the US, Britain and France on Saturday
night, the Foreign Ministry told the Czech News Agency on Sunday.
Foreign Minister Martin Stropnický on Saturday night spoke on the phone with US acting US Secretary of State John Sullivan, who informed him about the details of the attack. Mr Sullivan also told Mr Stropnický that considered the Czech Republic a reliable ally.
The US, UK and France have carried out air and missile strikes in Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack last Saturday.
Defence Minister Karla Šlechtová called an emergency meeting of the
National Security Council over the situation in Syria on Saturday. She said
after the meeting that the country's security was not threatened by
Ms Šlechtová said after the meeting that the US, UK and France have clearly shown that the use of chemical weapons can not be tolerated and that the consequences of attack on civilians have been minimized. She also said that the Czech soldiers taking part at the UN peace mission in the Golan Heights and the Czechs working at the embassy in Damascus were safe.
The Czech government responded in favor of the strike on Syria launched by
the US, Britain and France. The attack sends a clear message to those who
do not shy away from using chemical weapons, the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs said in a press release on Saturday morning.
Foreign Minister Martin Stropnický also confirmed on that as NATO ally the Czech Republic had been informed about the attack, although he didn't specify whether he was informed of the attack in advance. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said the attack on Syria had been inevitable, emphasizing the Czech Republic clear stance against the use of chemical weapons.
The presidential office, on the other hand, condemned the attack and accused certain media and non-governmental organizations of supporting the war.
The Czech Republic has found itself in a diplomatic tug-of-war between Turkey and the main Syrian Kurdish political party PYD following the arrest of former PYD leader Saleh Muslim in Prague. Muslim was detained at the weekend on an Interpol warrant at Turkey’s behest. Turkey has requested his extradition, while the PYD has appealed for his release.
The United States have re-sold old weapons from central and Eastern Europe to Syria, despite guaranteeing to be the end user, the Czech Centre for Investigative Journalism reported on Wednesday. Some of the weapons were reportedly purchased in the Czech Republic. According to the Czech journalists, who cooperated with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, such a procedure would be a breach of the arms trade agreement. The report, which cites publicly available documents, claims that the American Defence Ministry bought assault rifles, mortar shells and other military technique worth 500 billion crowns and subsequently re-sold them to Syrian rebels fighting ISIS.