Arab foreign Fighters Part of Syria’s Opposition – Russia accuses Libya of training and arming Syrian militants

Russia accuses Libya of training and arming Syrian militants against President Bashar Assad’s regime.russia UN envoy

The accusation was made by Russia’s envoy Vitaly Churkin during a UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday.

“We have received information that in Libya, with the support of the authorities, there is a special training center” for the Syrian militants “and people are sent to Syria to attack the legal government,” Churkin said.

“This is completely unacceptable…This activity is undermining stability in the Middle East,” he added.

The accusation comes after a document recently released by the whistleblower website, Wikileaks, revealed that undercover US-led NATO forces were operating inside Syria against the Syrian government.

Admitting the presence of foreign fighters, one international expert told the AFP agency Wednesday that “the possibility of foreign fighters participating in a rebellion always exists.”
“In a country where chaos sets in, it goes without saying that space is created for foreign volunteers but their role will remain paltry unless the Syrian fighters see value in their presence,” said Peter Harling, from the International Crisis Group.

In mid-February, an observer with the Arab League in Homs said “many foreign fighters, including Pakistanis, Afghans, Lebanese, Iraqis, Sudanese, Libyans and Yemenis led most of the fighting and dominated everybody.”

Similarly, Karim Emilie Bitar from the French Institute of International and Strategic Relations warned that “the number of fighters was likely to grow now that Qatar and Saudi Arabia have openly announced that they favor militarization of the Syrian revolution.”
He said “some foreign fighters were members of al-Qaeda, who responded to the call by Ayman Al-Zawahiri who has openly encouraged them to lead the fight in Syria.”

“Most of these previously fought in Iraq. Others are more or less independents, from Libya or elsewhere,” he said.

The arming of the Syrian rebels as encouraged by Qatar and Saudi Arabia is being intensely discussed in Arab and Western spheres.
Western fears were further aggravated after Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki recently said al-Qaeda militants, who are well established in his country, had started to move to Syria.

One such fighter is a 29-year-old Lebanese, who goes by the name of al-Baghdadi, and “enlisted in the Free Syrian Army.”

He said he was a sniper in Baghdad supporting former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during the US-led invasion of the country and returned to Lebanon after Saddam was ousted.

Another foreign fighter who declined to give his nationality and wore a salwar kameez, a tunic common in Afghanistan, said he fought US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, gaining the nickname “The Taliban.”

He said France should establish a “no-fly zone” over Syria, and added jokingly “otherwise we will attack France after killing Bashar”.

Source: AFP, Edited by

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