You are currently viewing On the EU border: Syrian fighters and jihadists for the Ukraine war

14 mar 2022 2:49 p.m

Russia uses recruitment agencies in Syria, where fighters are recruited for service in pro-Russian militias. Meanwhile, scores of jihadists from northern Syria have arrived in Ukraine to fight the Russian army. There is also the danger that the Ukraine war will become the scene of a fratricidal war among Chechen Muslims.

In the Ukraine war, the respective opponent seems to want to use recruited mercenaries from Syria for his fight. Numerous mercenaries have already volunteered to fight in the war against the Russian armed forces and the Ukrainian army in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently gave the green light to bring Syrian volunteers from the Middle East to the conflict zone. 16,000 fighters from the Middle East are said to be ready to support Russia in the Ukraine war.

The news comes after the Ukrainian government announced that around 20,000 mercenaries from 52 countries have so far volunteered to fight for Ukraine. Video footage released by Russia’s Defense Ministry on Friday shows Syrian volunteers volunteering to serve in Ukraine.

Russia uses recruitment agencies in Syria, where young men are recruited to serve in pro-Russian militias. The Russian mercenary group Wagner, which is closely linked to the Kremlin leadership, is said to be involved in such actions. Among the ranks of pro-Russian groups in Syria are noisy AP-Information Tens of thousands of so-called National Defense Forces, Christian militia fighters and defectors from the army, adept at urban and guerrilla warfare. This includes other Russian-backed auxiliaries and militias that have fought alongside the Syrian military against terrorism and Islamists. “Russia could quickly recruit members of these groups to fight in Ukraine if needed,” said Danny Makki, a Syria analyst.

Along with Iran-backed fighters from nearby Iraq, Lebanon and other parts of the region, these militias not only fought Syrian separatists but also helped fight the Islamic State group after it razed large parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014 had overrun. In the Syrian coastal region (stronghold of the Alawites) and the eastern Syrian province of Deir ez-Zor and in the capital Damascus, a campaign is said to be underway to hire Syrian mercenaries.

On the other hand, the Syrian government recently stated that numerous Islamist mercenaries from Idlib have agreed to fight alongside the West against the Russian army in Ukraine. Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Bashar al-Jafari said the West sees no obstacle in arming the “devil” against Russia.

The jihadists are said to have been transferred to Ukraine via Turkey. Rumors have been circulating that Turkey has been flying its Islamist proxies and allies from Istanbul to western Ukraine since the conflict began, where they then support Ukrainian forces. After Turkey’s military intervention in the Syrian conflict, the neighboring state to the north set up a representative group in northern Syria, the so-called “Syrian National Army” (SNA), which is an amalgamation of various Islamist groups. Al Mayadeen already reported that 450 jihadists from northern Syria of different nationalities have arrived in Ukraine, including fighters from the Islamist terrorist group Haiʾat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). It is worth noting that the Nusra Front changed its name to HTS in 2017 to allow open support from Western states.

Al Monitor also reports that Syrian “opposition fighters” and militants of jihadist groups operating in Syria are ready to be transferred to Ukraine to “fight Russia”. Such a development is not impossible given the strong anti-Russian sentiment in Idlib, as well as the decree of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky that foreigners willing to fight against Russia can enter the country without a visa.

In this respect, not only is a strong presence of neo-Nazi militias to be feared in the Ukraine war, but the war has already created a basis for radical Islamists to be deployed in Ukraine.

Report: Hundreds of jihadists from Idlib arrive in Ukraine

The involvement of Chechen fighters led by the head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov alongside the Russian army against Ukraine has also revealed a new dimension of the conflict in Ukraine. The involvement of Chechen fighters led by Kadyrov in the Ukraine war alongside the Russians has sparked a dispute among Islamists in Idlib. For their part, the jihadists in Idlib condemned Kadyrov and his soldiers for taking part in the Ukraine war. At the same time, the appearance in Ukraine of separate units consisting of Chechen oppositionists – Kadyrov’s opponents – has already become a reality.

At least the commanders of two battalions, consisting of Chechen volunteers, have stated that they are taking part in the “defense” of Ukraine. A battalion of volunteers is named after the first Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudayev, led by Adam Osmaev. Another is named after Sheikh Mansur, led by Muslim Cheberloewski. There is now a danger that the Ukraine war will become the scene of a fratricidal war among Chechens.

more on the subject – Influx of Foreign Fighters: Will Ukraine Become a New Syria?

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