China’s military role in Syria, step forward in fighting terror

By Jafar Razi Khan

China has recently indicated its willingness to deploy military forces to war-torn Syria in a bid to help the country’s army in its fight against foreign-backed terrorists who have been wreaking havoc in the country since 2011.

Many analysts believe that the move could be a substantial step forward in overall Chinese involvement in the Middle East and even on a global level.

In an interview with Press TV on Monday, political analyst Daniel Patrick Welch noted that China’s willingness to assist Syria’s military offensive shows that both Beijing and Moscow have now been “fed up” with the US regime change policy in various parts of the world.

“There are new indications that China may be considering involvement in helping to retake Idlib in Syria … It shows that a new order is emerging. China and Russia both with their own integration continuing …. all of these things are indications that they are fed up with the US regime change and a coup factory,” Welch said.

The analyst further said that China and Russia pose a challenge to American power, influence and interests. “With this sign that the Chinese are going to get involved, the US simply cannot do what it wants around the world if there are military agreements between China and Russia working.”

Welch, however, said that it was “extremely unlikely that China “will get directly involved” in war-torn Syria. “If a political decision was taken, it has yet not got to that level.”

Pointing to China’s “One Belt, One Road” policy to carry cargo between the Far East and Western Europe, the expert said that the Chinese have become stronger by spending trillions of dollars on their infrastructure over the past 20 years, while the US-led West has spent trillions of dollars on “murder and massacre” over the past years.

He said this shows “how messed up this system is and how close we may be in seeing the turndown of the US Empire!”

The remarks come after Chinese Ambassador to Syria Qi Qianjin recently suggested Beijing could soon deploy forces to assist the Syrian Army in its upcoming Idlib offensive.

Speaking to Syria’s Al-Watan newspaper on Thursday, the Chinese diplomat said they were monitoring the conflict, adding that the Chinese military “is willing to participate in some way alongside the Syrian Army that is fighting the terrorists in Idlib and in any other part of Syria.”

“There is positive military cooperation between China and Syria in the domain of counter-terrorism. We know that the war on terror and Syria’s campaign against the terrorists serve not only the interests of the Syrian people, but also the interests of the Chinese people and [those] of [all] the peoples of the world. There has been close cooperation between our armies in fighting the terrorists [who came to Syria] from all over the world, including terrorists who came from China. This cooperation between the armies and [other] relevant elements will continue in the future.”

Asked about the possibility that his country would take part in the Arab Syrian army’s upcoming campaign against the terrorists in Idlib, especially in light of the presence of Uyghur militants there, the envoy replied that China “is following the situation in Syria, in particular after the victory in southern [Syria], and its military is willing to participate in some way alongside the Syrian Army that is fighting the terrorists in Idlib and in any other part of Syria.”

Meanwhile, Chinese military attaché in Syria Wong Roy Chang also said there is “ongoing” military cooperation between the two countries and said China wishes to promote its relations with the Syrian Armed Forces.

“First, the Chinese government opposes every kind of terrorism … Second, we regret that some Chinese nationals, encouraged by extremist organizations, came to Syria and formed a terrorist organization [that fights] the [Syrian] citizens and government. We oppose and condemn this, and express our sorrow over the crimes perpetrated [by this organization] against the Syrian people and government.”

In response to a question about the possibility of China’s participation in the Idlib [military operation, the attaché said, “The military cooperation between the Syrian and Chinese armies is ongoing. We have good relations and we maintain this cooperation in order to serve the security, integrity and stability of our countries. We – China and its military – wish to develop our relations with the Syrian Army. As for participating in the Idlib operation, it requires a political decision.”

He also denied that there were military advisers or special Chinese forces in Syria today.

China’s promised support comes as thousands of Uyghur militants smuggled themselves and their families into Syria over the course of the multi-year conflict, with the bulk of them ultimately settling in Idlib province, alongside other foreign and domestic terrorists.

As the Syrian military prepares to launch a campaign for the recapture of Idlib in northern Syria, the Chinese government is concerned about the fate of these militants, as they will pose a threat to China’s national security if they return home.

The Uyghur separatists are a Turkic ethnic minority in China, with some members seeking independence for Xinjiang province, where the Uyghur minority is concentrated.

Although China has provided political support to Damascus and is widely expected to play an important role in Syria’s post-war reconstruction, Beijing has so far shied away from offering direct military support to the Syrian Army.

An article which recently published on Worldview said that China could likely deploy a limited number of Special Forces soldiers in Syria. “Beijing is likely to deploy a limited number of Special Forces soldiers and military advisers to assist Syrian government forces, while also working with Syria’s various intelligence agencies to prevent Uyghur militants from sneaking back into China and carrying out terrorist attacks.”

“Chinese President Xi Jinping has committed extensive resources toward reforming China’s military and developed its historic trade routes across Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. And in both of those endeavors, [Syrian President Bashar] Assad’s comeback in Syria has had benefits for Beijing,” it added.

In July, President Assad said government forces had turned their focus on Idlib, noting that liberation of the northwestern province is one of the military’s priorities.

The province holds the largest concentrations of Takfiri terrorists, who have fled there from ongoing liberation operations by the country.

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