The Syrian regime and the opposition have exchanged accusations that both are preparing to send (or have already sent) fighters to fight in Ukraine with one of the parties.
On Friday, a Russian intelligence statement said that the U.S.-controlled al-Tanf base in Syria has become “a training camp for ISIS terrorists before they are sent to Donbas.”
The statement added that the United States “continues to form new factions of terrorists in al-Tanf, and intends to send them to Ukraine via Poland.”
Following the statement, Radio Sham FM, which is close to the Syrian regime, claimed on Saturday that the Syrian National Army factions in northern Syria “opened the door to registration for fighters wishing to move to Ukraine and fight Russian forces.”
“The turnout is still in its beginning. Most of the registered gunmen who aspire to move to Ukraine view the opportunity as a foothold that will enable them to flee later to the rest of Europe to seek asylum,” the local radio said.
There has been no U.S. comment regarding Russian allegations about al-Tanf base, while military sources from northern Syria have denied reports of “registration lists.”
The pro-government al-Watan newspaper reported that members of the Ukrainian security service met with leaders of pro-Turkish national army factions in northern Syria. The first batch of militants had arrived in Ukraine.
Al-Watan quoted its sources as saying that the first batch of militants arrived from Turkey’s airports to Poland and then to Ukraine, in the first three days of the Russian military operation. The batch consists of 700 terrorists, mostly from ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, and Ankara factions in northeastern Syria.
According to the Syrian newspaper sources, the militants’ task is to obstruct the advance of Russian ground forces and convoys of equipment to the capital, Kyiv. This is achieved through sabotage operations and raids. The sources pointed out that Russian intelligence is aware of the details of the operation and that it has thwarted their efforts to carry out the tasks required of them.
In similar news, according to the pro-government website, Athr Press, a Russian military source revealed that members of Ukraine’s security service and Turkish intelligence officers were recruiting gunmen in northern Syria to fight with Ukrainian forces, RIA Novosti reported.
The Russian source pointed out that a group of three members of the Ukrainian security service accompanied by Turkish intelligence officers went on February 4th to Afrin and Azaz in northern Syria. They visited a site belonging to the Ankara factions and met with several leaders of these factions to discuss the possibility of recruiting their gunmen to fight alongside Ukrainian forces. The sources explained that it was agreed to organize a series of secret meetings with leaders of armed factions.
National Army denies meeting with Ukrainian officers in northern Syria
The National Army denied reports stated in Syrian and Russian media, according to the opposition website, al-Souria Net.
National army spokesman Major General Youssef Hammoud told al-Souria Net, “Everything that is circulated through the Russian media and the Syrian regime is totally inaccurate.”
Hammoud stressed that “no fighter from the National Army has left to Ukraine”. He pointed out that the Russian media and the Assad regime media have been active in the past days in accusing the National Army of taking fighters to Ukraine. 500 fighters left the airport of Hemeimeem in two batches towards Belarus and Russia from the regime areas.
Syrians for Truth and Justice said in a report last Thursday that fighters had begun registering with the Syrian regime’s security services in order to go fight in Ukraine alongside Russian forces.
“There are lists that are being prepared to be presented to Russian forces in Syria for approval before the start of the process of sending fighters,” the organization quoted two sources in Damascus Countryside as saying.
The organization’s president, Bassam al-Ahmad, told the Syrian Observer that they had confirmed reports of serious discussions and steps to recruit mercenaries who supported the regime in order to fight with the Russians in a possible street war in Ukraine.
“The Russians want Syrian fighters because of their experience in street warfare and their prior work under the Command of the Russians, they know their mentality and their procedure. “