Russia recruits over 500 Syrian fighters to Ukraine: Report
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Russia has recruited at least 500 fighters from Syria to fight in the war against Ukraine, a report by the human rights organization Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ) said on Thursday.
“Notably, all the fighters had previously registered their names with security companies and local recruitment brokers,” the report said.
“The STJ-monitored transport operations from Syria to Russia were carried out through the Russia-operated Khmeimim Air Base (Hmeimim Air Base) between March and April 2022. Russia conducted these operations in sync with similar transfers of Syrian fighters from Libya, who were also to join military action in Ukraine alongside Russian forces.”
The STJ built their report on the testimonies of relatives of fighters and information from second-rank officers within the Syrian Government forces.
These fighters were recruited by al-Sayyad Company for Guarding and Protection Services, known as the ISIS Hunters, and were given financial compensation ranging from $1000 to $1500 a month.
The recruits were also promised post-mission incentives, and the ability to rejoin the Syrian military formations they were enlisted from.
The STJ learned from interviewed military sources that no less than 530 fighters were recruited by the 25th Special Mission Forces Division after having attended a 15-day military training led by Russian officers.
The information obtained by the STJ indicates that at least 100 fighters from southern and central Syria were flown to combat fronts east of Ukraine.
“My relative was a fighter within the former [Yarmouk Army], affiliated with the Syrian armed opposition. Later, he joined the 8th Brigade, within the artillery unit. He told me that he registered his name to fight in Ukraine," a relative of a Syrian fighter who went to Ukraine told the STJ.
"He also said that he and 50 other young men from Daraa, As-Suwayda, Rif Dimashq (Damascus countryside), were assembled in a square in Busra al-Sham city and relocated to Khmeimim Air Base on 14 March 2022, in preparation for transporting them to Russia.”
“There, they told them that they will get 1300 USD monthly salary and that the mission had no specific duration. They also promised them that they will receive a salary raise when they are back. I lost contact with my relative that day.”
In the past, Syrian fighters have also fought in Libya and the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) denies sending forces to Ukraine, and so far it seems that the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) has also not sent fighters due to Turkish reluctance to send proxies to the war.
Read More: SDF denies sending forces to Ukraine
In March, the Pentagon confirmed that Moscow was recruiting Syrians to fight in Ukraine.
On Feb. 24, 2022, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. According to the UN, the conflict has displaced at least 14 million Ukrainians.
Around six million of them have left Ukraine for foreign countries.