As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, Moscow announced last week that it would welcome foreign volunteers to fight alongside Russian troops in Ukraine.
More than 40,000 Syrians have already registered to go, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Wednesday.
The recruits are from both the Syrian military and the regime’s allied militias. Both groups have already received training from the Russian military to fight in Syria. Registry offices have been set up in government-controlled areas.
So far, some 22,000 of the applicants have been greenlit to fight in Ukraine, SOHR said. The remaining 18,000 will be vetted by Russian military contractor Wagner. There is no confirmation to date that any Syrians have actually left for Ukraine.
The Syrian government has denied the recruitment process.
“So far no names have been noted down, no soldiers have registered and no one has travelled to Russia to fight in Ukraine,” Omar Rahmoun from the National Reconciliation Committee said.
Earlier in the week, SOHR had reported fighters going to Russian headquarters in government-controlled parts of Derazor to register.
There are registration offices in Rif Dimashq and eastern Ghouta as well, according to SOHR.
Poor living conditions in regime-held areas have increased the number of men wanting to fight in Ukraine, SOHR reported.
Soldiers earn up to $35 per month in Syria, while Russia has reportedly promised salaries of $1,100 to fight in Ukraine. If fighters are injured or killed in combat, their families are also set to receive $7,700 and $16,500 respectively.
Ninety percent of Syria’s population has been pushed into poverty in the civil war that has continued for more than a decade, according to a report by the Agence France-Press.
Turkey backed groups are offered $3,000
Meanwhile, Turkey-backed groups and jihadists are also preparing to fight in Ukraine. The groups in question, the Sultan Murad, Sulaiman Shah and Hamza divisions, had sent hundreds to fight alongside Ankara-backed Libyan forces and Azerbaijani forces in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Turkey has promised up to $3,000 for Syrian recruits, one fighter told an AFP reporter in northern Syria.