US says Russia is recruiting Syrian fighters to aid in the Ukraine invasion and help take Kyiv: report
Kelsey Vlamis – March 6, 2022
- US officials told The Wall Street Journal that Russia was recruiting Syrians to fight in Ukraine.
- One official told the outlet some Syrians were already in Russia preparing.
- Fighters from the US and the UK have also joined the war to fight on behalf of Ukraine.
The US says Russia is recruiting fighters from Syria to aid in its invasion of Ukraine, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.
The Journal cited four US officials as saying Moscow was interested in Syrians with experience in urban combat who might help Russian forces take Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital and largest city.
It’s unclear how many Syrian fighters have been recruited or whether any have already been deployed to Ukraine, though one official told The Journal some were already in Russia preparing.
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the Journal report.
Russia has been operating in Syria since 2015, when it launched a military intervention to help the Syrian government fight rebels in the country’s civil war.
Deir Ezzor 24, a media outlet based in Syria, reported last week that Russia was offering $200 to $300 for Syrian mercenaries willing to go to Ukraine for six months to “operate as guards.” The outlet said Russia was contracting Syrians who fought in Libya’s civil war. Reuters reported in 2020 that Russia had hired hundreds of Syrian mercenaries to fight in Libya.
Foreign fighters have also joined the war on behalf of Ukraine. Days after the full-scale Russian assault began, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the creation of a foreign legion for anyone wanting to fight Russia in Ukraine.
British and American veterans are among those who have traveled to the country. Ukrainian officials said last week that 3,000 Americans had applied to fight. Several hundred arrived in Ukraine as of last week, Military Times reported.