Beijing – China is planning to send troops to Syria to aid President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces battling insurgency and terrorism for more than half a decade, according to media reports.
The New Arab reports that the Chinese Ministry of Defence 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.
The move comes as Beijing becomes increasingly concerned with the presence of militants in the East Turkestan region, who have been sighted aiding opposition groups in Syria.
Last week, during a meeting with Syrian Presidential Adviser Bouthaina Shaaban, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi praised the regime’s efforts at tackling the fighters from the Islamic East Turkistan Movement.
The Syrian regime 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 regime 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.
More than half a million people are believed to have been killed and over a million displaced since 2011.