QURGHON TEPPA, July 10, 2014, Asia-Plus -- Since the beginning of this year, Khatlon law enforcement authorities have instituted 21 criminal proceedings against 29 local residents charged with participation in outlawed religious extremist and terrorist groups.

“They are charged with participating in outlawed religious extremist groups and fighting in the ranks of rebel forces in Syria, Sirojiddin Nourov, a chief prosecutor in Khatlon province, told journalists on July 10.

According to him, the majority of the accused are residents of the Qubodiyon and Bokhtar districts and the city of Kulob.

“Investigation into the case instituted against five people has already been completed and it has moved to a court while the remaining 20 cases are still under investigation,”  Nourov said.

We will recall that according to Tajik authorities, four Tajik nationals have been killed in Syria, and six others have been arrested in Tajikistan upon their return from Syria.

In December 2013, Tajikistan''s Supreme Court sentenced five of the country''s citizens to around two years in jail for fighting on the side of antigovernment forces in Syria.  The five were reportedly students at the Syrian International University who decided to join Syrian rebel forces.  All five were detained in October when they returned to Tajikistan.  Since Tajikistan did not have a law against “mercenaries” that time, the five were charged with “participation in a criminal group or in other armed groups.”

Meanwhile, Tajikistan’s lower house (Majlisi Namoyandagon) of parliament on May 22 approved an amendment to the Criminal Code stipulating punishment for Tajik nationals taking part in foreign armed conflicts.

According to some media sources, more than 190 Tajik are fighting in Syria on the side of rebel forces.