Europe

Russia looks to recruit Syrians into Ukraine war: report

A Ukrainian soldier sits injured in cross fire inside the city of Kyiv, Ukraine
AP/Emilio Morenatti

Russian officials are looking to recruit Syrian soldiers to fight in Ukraine as battles are set to intensity in and around major cities, The Wall Street Journal reported

U.S. officials told the Journal that Moscow is specifically recruiting Syrian fighters for their expertise in urban combat fighting.

Troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Russia, have been fighting a fierce battle in urban centers for nearly a decade, giving them a skill set hard to find among Russian troops. 

One official said while it’s unclear how many Syrian fighters will join the battle, some are already in Russia preparing to enter the conflict, per the Journal. 

The involvement of Syrian troops would further internationalize a war that began with Russia’s invasion on February 24. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said last week that over 16,000 foreign fighters have volunteered to defend the country, calling it an “international legion.”

 

Russia’s war on its neighbor has led to a series of international sanctions being leveled against Moscow, however the U.S. and its NATO allies have shown no interest in direct engagement in the war. 

The U.S. has contributed more than $1 billion to help Ukraine’s military over the past year and has pledged more aid as Russia’s weeklong war against the country continues.

The UN’s refugee agency said on Thursday that more than one million Ukrainian citizens have fled the country since the invasion. 

Tags Syria Vladimir Putin
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