Egypt Independent

German far-right AfD politicians travel to Syria in effort to send back refugees

Citing a lack of trust in media coverage, AfD parliamentarians have gone to Syria to assess the security situation for themselves. The party has been pushing to declare Syria a safe country and send back Syrian refugees.

Parliamentarians with the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) are traveling around Syria in an unusual trip this week in hopes of boosting the party’s efforts to send back half a million Syrian refugees currently living in Germany.

On Tuesday, members of the AfD posed for pictures with allies of Syrian President Bashar Assad and snapped pictures of women walking on the streets of Damascus, posting about their trip on social media.

The seven-man team is comprised of four Bundestag MPs as well as state parliamentarians from the populous, western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). Other than Damascus, the group plans on visiting Homs and Aleppo during their trip — all areas which are mostly controlled by the Assad government.

Helmut Seifen, the deputy leader of the AfD’s parliamentary party in the NRW state parliament, told DW the MPs taking part in the trip hope to determine “whether there is war everywhere, or if there are safe areas as well.”

He emphasized that it was a “private” trip that did not have a direct connection to the AfD’s refugee repatriation proposal, but said the AfD expects to receive a report after the group returns on Friday. Seifen said MPs would likely only travel to “safe” areas.

“The goal of the trip is to thoroughly inquire on site about the humanitarian situation and reconstruction work in areas which have been liberated from terrorists,” the party said in a statement cited by German news magazine Der Spiegel. The statement added that German media couldn’t be trusted in its coverage of the conflict.

“We will visit educational institutions and talk to representatives of many faith communities,” Christian Blex, an AfD state parliamentarian from NRW, told right-wing site Compact Online before the trip. “We will also talk to government officials.”

Blex was one of several AfD politicians who traveled to the Russia-annexed Crimea last month to speak out against Western sanctions. The group traveled through Moscow, a move seen as illegal by the Ukrainian government. The trip was criticized by both Kyiv and Berlin.