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20220307

Russia looks to recruit Syrian soldiers to fight in Ukraine

Washington [US]: Russian President Vladimir Putin is looking to recruit Syrian soldiers to fight in Ukraine amid the escalating conflict in Kyiv, The Wall Street Journal reported citing US officials. United States officials told the Journal that Moscow is specifically recruiting Syrian fighters for their expertise in urban combat fighting. An American assessment indicates that Russia, which has been operating inside Syria since 2015, has in recent days been recruiting fighters from there, hoping their expertise in urban combat can help take Kyiv and deal a devastating blow to the Ukrainian government, according to four American officials. The move points to a potential escalation of fighting in Ukraine, The Wall Street Journal said citing experts. Troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Russia, have been fighting a fierce battle in urban centres for nearly a decade, giving them a skill set hard to find among Russian troops, The Hill reported. 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." Ukraine's Defense Ministry also put out a call for foreign volunteers on Facebook, asking for applicants with combat experience who have "citizenship other than Ukrainian, but ... are standing with Ukraine against (the) Russian invasion," The New York Post reported. Russian forces launched military operations in Ukraine on February 24, three days after Moscow recognized Ukraine's breakaway regions, Donetsk and Luhansk as independent republics followed by the announcement of a "special military operation" to "demilitarize" and "denazify" Ukraine. Meanwhile, the third round of talks between Russia and Ukraine may take place today.

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