Information from several sources indicates that Rafiq al-Hariri airport in Beirut is being used as a passage for fighters coming from Eastern Europe to fight alongside the Syrian regime, while Hezbollah, which plays a major part in the battles against the Syrian opposition provides them cover.
Lebanese English language newspaper The Daily Star reported security sources saying that Hezbollah secures passage for the mercenaries to the Bekka, specifically from Chtoura to Nabi Chit, then on to Syria.
The information was confirmed by the director of Qalamoun Media Center, Aamer al-Qalamouni, who said that Hezbollah transports the mercenaries via the village of Masnaa in the village of Bekka, which is the main path for its fighters to Syria.
Qalamouni told Ash-Sharq al-Awsat that "the fighters of Eastern Europe can now be seen frequently and clearly in the battles, especially the pilots. The regime now depends on pilots from Russia and Ukraine to shell the civilians in opposition-held areas. This is because the Syrian pilots either leak information about the targets or refuse to shell their people."
European intelligence agencies said that those fighters have a good military experience and they had previously fought in Chechnya.
The Hezbollah member of the Lebanese parliament, al-Walid Sukkeriyah, denied the information saying that "this has no relation to reality. Hezbollah doesn’t need fighters. How can those mercenaries pass Beirut Airport without being caught by the security forces? Is it possible that the security forces are cooperating with the Syrian regime to hide something like this?".
A member of the Free Syrian Army staff, Faraj al-Hammoud al-Faraj, said he believed "all the Iranian and Iraqi fighters enter Syria through Lebanon, while the fighters from Eastern Europe enter either through Antakya on the Turkish-Syrian border or through Beirut."
The Daily Star said the first group of Eastern Europe fighters arrived in Lebanon in January, consisting of 23 fighters and those were transported by Hezbollah trucks to Chtoura, to arrive finally in Sarghaya city near Damascus. The members of the second group arrived individually to avoid suspicion; this group consisted of 11 fighters, three of them came from Dagestan in the south of Russia.
The source told the Daily Star that Eastern Europe fighters wear Hezbollah uniforms to show their loyalty to the party. Many groups of Arabs and Europeans have recently joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) during the last three months.
This information confirms that of Faraj al-Faraj, who told Ash-Sharq al-Awasat: "The fighters of the Free Army found passports of Russian fighters among ISIS groups during its battles against the Free Army in Minbij in the countryside of Aleppo."
A European intelligence report says that "around 5,000 European citizens have joined extremist groups in Syria and Iraq to participate in the Jihadist activities".
It is well-known that the Syrian regime uses the fighters of Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite fighters in his war against the opposition. The director of the Islamic Observatory, a London-based organization concerned with Islamists around the world, said that intelligence experts estimate the number of Shiite fighters fighting beside the Syrian regime to be about 40,000 fighters.
Those are fighting at the main fronts in Damascus, Aleppo and Qalamoun, while Hezbollah participated effectively in the confrontations in Homs, al-Qusayr and their countrysides.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer