- US officials told The Wall Street Journal Russia is recruiting Syrians to fight in Ukraine.
- One official told the outlet some Syrians were already in Russia preparing.
- Foreign fighters from the US and UK have also joined the war to fight on behalf of Ukraine.
Russia is recruiting fighters from Syria to aid in their invasion of Ukraine, four US officials told The Wall Street Journal.
Moscow is interested in Syrians who have experience with urban combat in hopes they can help Russian forces take Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital and largest city, the officials said.
It was not clear how many Syrian fighters had been recruited or if any had already been deployed to Ukraine, though one official told The Journal some were already in Russia preparing.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on The Journal report.
Russia has been operating in Syria since 2015, when it launched a military intervention to help the Syrian government fight against rebels in the ongoing civil war.
Deir Ezzor 24, a media outlet based in Syria, reported last week that Russia was offering Syrians between $200 to $300 for mercenaries willing to go to Ukraine for six months to “operate as guards.” The outlet said Russia was contracting Syrians who fought in the Libyan war. Reuters reported in 2020 that Russia had hired hundreds of Syrian mercenaries to fight in Libya.
Foreign fighters have also joined the war on behalf of Ukraine. Days after the full-scale Russian assault began, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the creation of an International Legion for foreigners who wanted to come to Ukraine and fight against Russia.
British and American veterans have traveled to the country. Ukrainian officials said last week 3,000 Americans had applied to join the new international legion. Several hundred arrived in Ukraine as of last week, Military Times reported.