EU says its foreign Syria fighters are up to 2,000

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BRUSSELS (AP) - Belgium's interior minister says the overall number of fighters in Syria from the European Union could total up to 2,000.

Joelle Milquet said Thursday after a meeting involving a dozen nations that the total was "estimated at, more or less, between 1,500 and 2,000." She did not say how she got that number.

Milquet has been pushing for a united front within the 28-nation bloc to deal with the threat the increase of foreign fighters in Syria poses.

Her French counterpart Manuel Valls said the estimate included over 180 fighters coming from France, double the total before the summer.

The number is a rare public estimate. An AP analysis of government and expert figures published Tuesday found that the 11 western European countries with the biggest contingents in Syria are estimated to have some 1,200-1,700 people among rebel forces.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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