05:13 GMT +319 October 2018
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    Syrian army in Idlib province. File photo

    China Willing to Assist Syrian Army in Idlib Offensive – Ambassador to Syria

    © Sputnik / Iliya Pitalev
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    Suliman Mulhem
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    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.

    Chinese Ambassador to Syria Qi Qianjin has suggested Beijing could soon deploy forces to assist the Syrian Army in its upcoming Idlib offensive, in addition to anti-terrorist operations in other parts of the country.

    Speaking to Syria’s Al-Watan newspaper on Thursday, the Chinese diplomat said they are 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.”

    READ MORE: Armed Groups in Syria's Southwest Surrender Tanks, Howitzers

    A source at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) told Sputnik reporter Suliman Mulhem he wasn’t aware of plans for China to militarily enter the war, but said the Syrian government “welcomed any support” in its ongoing drive to dislodge terrorists from Syria. 

    Meanwhile, Chinese military attaché Wong Roy Chang told the Al-Watan newspaper there is “ongoing” military cooperation between the two countries and said China wishes to advance its relationship with the Syrian Armed Forces.

    When questioned about the prospect of Chinese forces aiding the Syrian Army in its operation to liberate the Idlib Governorate, Chang said such an initiative “requires a political decision,” without elaborating.

    Thousands of hardline Islamist 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 jihadists. 

    The Chinese government is undoubtedly concerned about the fate of these militants, as they pose a threat to China’s national security, but the deployment of a large contingent of forces to Syria would be surprising, especially as the war is nearing its end.

    Instead, Beijing is likely to deploy a limited number of special forces soldiers and military advisors 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.

    READ MORE: Hmeymim Air Defenses Shoot Down Militant UAV in Syria — Russian MoD

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    Tags:
    offensive, terrorism, Syria crisis, Chinese Armed Forces, Syrian Army, Wong Roy Chang, Qi Qianjin, Idlib, China, Syria
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