Spetsnaz troops helping Syrian, Hezbollah, foreign forces near Aleppo, Latakia
Russian special operations troops are working covertly in Syria to support an array of Iranian-backed fighters, including members of the international terrorist group Hezbollah, U.S. defense officials and counterterror experts say.
The Spetsnaz commandos were detected working closely with military forces of the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, as well as several Iranian-backed groups, which even include armed Iraqis and Afghans.
Officials did not disclose the specific numbers of Spetsnaz troops in Syria but said the numbers were in the dozens.
Recent operations involving Spetsnaz forces have been focused on attacking anti-regime rebels near the northern city of Aleppo. The city has also been a target of Russian airstrikes.
However, officials said reports from Syria that Spetsnaz troops are working with pro-Iranian Hezbollah forces are a growing concern. Officials are worried the terrorist group, which is known for attacking Americans, will gain valuable military know-how from the Russian commandos.
Hezbollah, or Party of God, is a Lebanon-based terror group that the U.S. Counterterrorism Center has linked to numerous attacks that have killed scores of Americans since the 1980s.
“Russian-Hezbollah cooperation and coordination in Syria has been going on since the outset of Russia’s entry into the civil war,” said David Daoud, a Middle East analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
“Iranian and Hezbollah sources have openly admitted, on a number of occasions, that Hezbollah ground operations during key battles in the war were carried out with Russian air support,” Daoud said. “So it wouldn’t be surprising that there’s now cooperation between Hezbollah’s ground forces and Russian special forces.”
Despite its record of anti-U.S. attacks, the U.S. government has done little to counter Hezbollah or retaliate against it.
Full article: U.S. Spots Russian Commandos in Syria (Washington Free Beacon)