Russian ‘volunteer’ fighters to fight for Assad regime

Russian parliament’s top defence lawmaker Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov announces that ‘volunteers’ from Russian Federation could end up in Syria to fight alongside Assad regime

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Anti-Assad Syrian civilians organise a meeting in Idlib to protest Russian air strikes against opposition targets in northern Syria.

Russian parliament’s top defence lawmaker Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov announced that “volunteers” from the Russian Federation will possibly join the Syrian war, alongside Bashar al Assad regime to fight against opposition forces.

Komoyedov said, “it is likely that groups of Russian volunteers will appear in the ranks of the Syrian army as combat participants,” speaking to the Russian Interfax-AVN news agency on Monday.

Komoyedov, a Communist party deputy, is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s top military liaison to the parliament, he's responsible to lead the lower chamber’s defence committee.

The issue of Russian volunteers in Syria surfaced when various media news outlets claimed Russian combatants were seen fighting against anti-Assad militant groups in the country. The combatants allegedly fought against the Western-backed government in Ukraine in favor of Russian separatists, media reports stated.

“What attracts volunteers apart from ideas? Of course money most likely,” Komoyedov added. Media reports also claimed that pro-Assad Russian fighters earn $50 per day in Syria.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov also came forward recently with a support declaration of the Assad regime saying that “this is not idle talk, I am asking for permission to go there and participate in special operations,” in an interview with the RSN radio station on Friday, according to Reuters.

The Republic of Chechnya is part of the Russian Federation and has been led by the pro-Russian Kadyrov family since 2000, following the failed Chechen independence war against the Federation.

“Being a Muslim, a Chechen and a Russian patriot I want to say that in 1999, when our republic was overrun with these devils, we swore on the Koran that we would fight them wherever they are,” Kadyrov added.

Meanwhile, Russia has kept bombing mostly Syrian opposition-held territories in the country other than ISIS which has strongly been protested by Turkey, US, and the NATO alliance. The Russian air strikes have mainly targeted the Army of Conquest which is an anti-Assad opposition alliance including US-supported militant groups.

Turkey and the US have consistently defended to topple the Assad regime backing opposition groups while Russia has supported the regime since the beginning of the conflict.

Russia has added another threatening dimension in its Syrian drama reportedly violating the Turkish airspace near its Syrian border with fighter jets on Saturday. There have been reports of a second violation of Turkish airspace by the MIG-29 fighter jets whose nationalities could not be identified by Turkish Air Forces.

Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it has strongly protested the violation and summoned the Russian ambassador to convey its condemnation of the breach in a statement released on Monday.

“Turkey told the ambassador that Russia should highly refrain from a similar violation again and in opposite case, Russia would be accountable for any undesirable event,” the statement emphasised.

NATO also called on Russia to stop its incursions into the airspace of the member country Turkey, following an emergency meeting in Brussels on Monday.

The North Atlantic Council, which is the alliance's decision making body, issued its statement saying that "allies strongly protest these violations of Turkish sovereign airspace, and condemn these incursions into and violations of NATO airspace.’’

The alliance also noted that “the extreme danger of such irresponsible behaviour. They call on the Russian Federation to cease and desist, and immediately explain these violations,” the statement added.

Russian Defence Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov explained on Monday that the Russian behaviour is  with “unfavourable weather conditions.”

An anonymous Obama administration official described the Russian “mistaken” behaviour “deliberately provocative,” saying that the violation could not be “accidental” according to the New York Times.

US Secretary of State John Kerry also pointed out, "had Turkey responded ... it could have resulted in a shoot down, and it is precisely the kind of thing we warned against,” during a visit to Chile.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared the Russian actions as “quite unacceptable,” on Sunday saying that “unfortunately, Russia is making a grave mistake.”  

“If Russia loses Turkey, it would lose a lot,” he added.

TRTWorld and agencies