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Syrian Official: China Not Sending Troops to Fight Chinese Islamists

  • Chinese and Syrian businessmen shake hands behind their national flags during a meeting to discuss reconstruction projects in Syria, Beijing, China May 8, 2017.

    Chinese and Syrian businessmen shake hands behind their national flags during a meeting to discuss reconstruction projects in Syria, Beijing, China May 8, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Published 30 November 2017

The Islamic East Turkestan Movement is estimated to have 2,500 soldiers operating in Syria under Syria’s al-Qaida affiliate, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

A Syrian official has denied that China is sending troops to the Damascus countryside to fight the Islamic East Turkestan Movement, a Chinese extremist group largely comprised of Uyghur separatists.

"It's not true, it's just a report from bad sources, including opposition and Gulf aligned websites," the unnamed official told teleSUR. "It circulated around to other more credible sources before being verified."

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On Wednesday, a number of sources began reporting that China would send members of its elite special forces to Syria to assist in counter-terror operations, citing the Hmeimim Russian Military Base’s official Facebook page.

Two divisions of the Special Operations Forces, the “Tigers of Siberia” and the “Night Tigers” were said to be en route to assist Syrian army forces in their military operations to combat the Chinese jihadist group, which has committed hundreds of terrorist attacks within China.

Other sources have since denied the claims, also citing Syrian sources.

Estimates suggest that there could be around 2,500 of the foreign fighters in Syria aiding and assisting other jihadist elements within the war-torn Levantine country.

While China has traditionally stayed out of the Syrian conflict directly, the Asian country has intervened to combat the spread of the Islamic East Turkestan network that has found its way to not only Syria, but Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The group has deep ties to the international al-Qaida network and fights under their regional affiliates.

In October 2012, Chinese major general Jin Yinan stated that the Chinese-based jihadist group had established a presence in Syria to help its fighters gain experience and to gain an international following for its cause in China.

Fighting in a Damascus suburb, East Ghouta, a bastion for armed opposition groups, has seen less violence as Russian-brokered ceasefire has been implemented.

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With the deal, aid convoys were allowed to enter in the Damascus suburb.

This ceasefire was implemented ahead of the latest of the Geneva peace talks which seek to reach a political solution for the brutal conflict that has lasted nearly 7 years and claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands.

Reconciliation efforts in Damascus countryside have seen moderate success, especially in areas like Wadi Barada, where thousands of civilian residents and Syrian militants have had their legal status reinstated.

However, foreign militants, and others associated with the al-Qaida affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, have rejected all attempts at reconciliation opting instead for military confrontation.

EDITORS NOTE: An earlier version of this article reported that Chinese troops being sent to Syria, citing reports from other outlets.
I think China is too late ..
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