Bouthaina Shaaban, the political and media adviser to Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, discussed the possibility of deploying Chinese Special Forces to Syria with Chinese Army officials during her latest visit to China, the Russian news agency Sputnik reported on November 28.
According to Sputnik’s report, the Chinese Army is planning to deploy the Shenyang Military Region Special Forces Unit “Siberian Tiger”, and the Lanzhou Military Region Special Forces Unit “Night Tiger” to Syria in order to counter the threat of the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), which had recruited thousands of Chinese Uyghurs and sent them to Syria during the last few years.
On November 23, Reuters reported that Shaaban only met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during her visit to China. The two sides discussed the political process in Syria and the reconstruction of the country, according to Reuters.
“China hopes the Syrian side can seize the opportunity, display flexibility, and promote dialogue and negotiation to achieve substantive results …The international community should emphasize and actively support Syria’s reconstruction. China will put forth its own effort for this,” Wang said after meeting with Shaaban, according to Reuters.
Lately, the TIP became one of the strongest forces in the Syrian governorate of Idlib. The Asian radical Islamist groups are now supporting a military operation of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) in the northern Hama countryside, according to Syrian opposition sources. This might have encouraged China to consider a military action against the TIP in Syria before its fighters gain an opportunity to return to eastern Asia.
Some sources speculate that a misterious Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) strike, which targeted fighters of the TIP in Idlib city on November 17, could be linked to Chinese military activities in Syria, as Turkey and the US didn’t announce their responsibility for the airstrike.
The Chinese Air Force is known to be one of the biggest operators of UCAVs in the world. Moreover, the Russian Special Force had conducted similar limited military operations against radical Chechen fighters in northern Lattakia months before an official start of the Russian military operation in Syria.
The military operation in Syria will not only allow China to counter the TIP threat far away from its territory, but it will also allow the economical giant to secure a place in the Syrian reconstruction process.