(Photo Credit: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images)
Regional intelligence sources revealed that Russia has poured more than 500 Syrian fighters into Ukraine over the past few months, primarily for “non-combat” roles, and has generally assigned them to protect facilities in the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics.
The sources told Middle East Eye (MEE) that the trained fighters belong mainly to units loyal to the Syrian government, supported, trained, and managed by Russia during the fight against opposition forces and the Islamic State (ISIS).
The report claims that the deployed fighters are affiliated with the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) 25th Division, which includes the Special Task Forces, known as the Tiger Forces, the Fifth Corps, and the Al-Quds Brigade, a militia made up mostly of Palestinian Syrians.
A few weeks after the Ukraine war erupted, the Kremlin announced that fighters from Syria and West Asian countries would be allowed to fight alongside Russia in Ukraine after Putin backed a plan to send volunteers into the war.
Earlier this year, The New York Times reported that at least 300 Syrian fighters were sent to Russia for further training before being deployed to Ukraine.
However, the semi-official Russian agency of Sputnik revealed several reports published over the past months that the US intelligence (CIA) operated fighters from ISIS and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) to fight the Russian army.
On 4 March, Russian intelligence services highlighted that the US was sending extremist militants from Idlib province to Ukraine to fight against Russia. Moscow accused Washington of training these extremist militants at the US military base of Al-Tanf in southeast Syria.
Assisting Ukraine was not limited to Arab extremists. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova revealed that large numbers of Israelis are also fighting alongside Ukrainian ultra-nationalists from the Azov Battalion.
This matter was confirmed by the Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel, Yevgeny Kornichuk, who said that several Israeli volunteers traveled to his country to fight against the Russian forces.
Observers believe that the US and western countries are fully aware that Ukraine will never withstand the corps of the Russian army, but are capable of slowing the wheel of victory and inflicting the largest possible amount of losses, which they have been working on since the start of the war.