A political analyst says that the list of identified terrorists released by the government in Damascus is “only the tip of the iceberg” as reports indicate over 10,000 foreign-backed fighters are in Syria, Press TV reports.
On Tuesday, Syrian newspaper Al Watan published the names of 142 terrorists from 18 countries, who were killed while fighting against Syrian forces. The list includes 47 Saudis, 24 Libyans, 10 Tunisians, 11 Afghans, nine Egyptians, six Qataris, five Lebanese, five Turks and a number of terrorists from Chad, Chechnya and Azerbaijan.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Alaa Ebrahim, journalist and political analyst in Damascus, to further discuss the issue. What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Press TV: When it comes of course to the role of foreign fighters and their foreign backers, according to the Syrian government, it says that this conflict can only be resolved once those countries who are allowing these fighters to get into Syria stop doing that. What are your thoughts?
Ebrahim: Actually, first we have to make a distinction between two kinds of insurgents or foreign fighters in Syria. The first kind are the intelligence operatives coming from Turkey, the [P]GCC countries, the United States of America and Britain.
They are here to train, to do information gathering, to do Intel work and sometimes they train and lead some of the other foreign fighters and Syrian fighters in their fight against the government troops.
The other kind which is the majority of foreign fighters in Syria are the so-called Jihadists. They come from all across the world. They have been recruited in Britain and the United States and [P]GCC countries and in any country that you can think of, Pakistan, Afghanistan…
Actually there have been media reports in Western mass media such as The Guardian and the Independent over the recruitment of British young men who are sent to Syria or who went to Syria to fight the government.
But just let me say another thing that this list is only the tip of the iceberg. One hundred and forty two names is hardly a big part or the bulk of the foreign fighters in Syria. There are some estimates that say that there are over 10,000 foreign fighters here in Syria coming, as I told you, from the [Persian] Gulf countries, from Pakistan, from Afghanistan, from European countries.
Let me tell you another thing that these fighters, though they might not be the majority of the fighting force on the ground, but they are the elite of these fighting forces. Some of those people have been fighting in Afghanistan, in Iraq and now they came to Syria. So they have quite a good experience and they are applying this experience here in Syria.
Press TV: We know that Syria has now given that list to the UN Security Council. Do you expect any kind of international action when it comes to this foreign presence, basically?
Ebrahim: The foreign interference in the Syrian crisis has been evident since day one. We have seen [Turkish] Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan speaking about what the Syrian government should do beginning from the first month when the protests started in Syria.
So I think foreign intervention has been clear in many ways in Syria and it is not a secret that the United Kingdom has sent command and control systems to opposition fighters and it has media reports about that that has been published, as I told you, in many mass media outlets in Europe.
I do not think there will be an international reaction to this, though I think this could be a chance for countries such as Russia and China who are supporting Syria and Security Council and other UN organizations that this would be a chance for them to strengthen their position, to say look this is not a Syrian internal fight; this is a proxy war launched by the West against Syria.
So I think I do not expect any big international response but it will definitely strengthen the position of the Syrian government and the allies of Syria. And let me also mention that this is not the first list that the Syrian government has sent to the UN Security Council. This is about a series of I think more than two hundred names were sent to the United Nations Security Council before this list.