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Chinese Special Operations Forces (File Photo)
Chinese Special Operations Forces (File Photo)

China Reportedly Sending Special Forces to Syria

The Syrian government claims that some 5,000 fighters of Uyghur origin, an ethnic Muslim minority that Chinese authorities regularly accuse of terrorism, have arrived in Syria, illegally passing through Southeast Asia and Turkey

China Reportedly Sending Special Forces to Syria

Chinese Special Forces will soon head to Syria to participate in countering terrorism of the Islamic East Turkistan Movement in the Damascus countryside, said the Hmeimim Russian Military Base in west Syria.
The base posted on its Facebook page that the Chinese Ministry of Defense intends to send two units, known as the “Tigers of Siberia” and the “Night Tigers” from the Special Operations Forces, to aid Syrian government troops against the Islamic East Turkestan Movement that was sighted aiding terrorist groups in Syria, Asharq Al-Awsat reported.
There are an estimated 2,500 Islamic East Turkistan Movement militants operating in Syria.
Islamic East Turkistan Movement has been declared as a terrorist organization by the US State Department. The group is said to be allied with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, and therefore Beijing has constantly urged Islamabad to take action against it.
According to Middle East Monitor, last week, during a meeting with Syrian Presidential Advisor Bouthaina Shaaban, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi praised the government’s efforts in tackling the fighters from the Islamic East Turkistan Movement.
The Syrian government has also claimed that some 5,000 fighters of Uyghur origin, an ethnic Muslim minority that Chinese authorities regularly accuse of terrorism, have arrived in Syria, illegally passing through Southeast Asia and Turkey.
This is not the first time Chinese troops have crossed into Syria; in 2015 the Syrian government permitted some 5,000 soldiers to enter its territory as allied forces and stationed them in the western region of Latakia. Chinese military advisors were also among the deployment, as well as naval and aerial assets.
China is one of the five veto-wielding powers of the UN Security Council and, along with Russia, has used its power on more than one occasion to protect the interests of the Syrian government
Russian support has given the government an upper hand in the six year-long civil war. More than half a million people are believed to have been killed in the devastating war since 2011.

 First Military Base
The deployment of Chinese Special Forces comes as Beijing formally opened its first overseas military base in August in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.
According to Reuters, China began construction of a logistics base in Djibouti last year. It will be used to resupply navy ships taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia, in particular. There has been persistent speculation in diplomatic circles that China would build other such bases, in Pakistan for example, but the government has dismissed this.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is overseeing an ambitious military modernization program, including developing capabilities for China’s forces to operate far from home.

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