The first jihadist private military company in the history of the Middle East, Malhama Tactical, is training armed, outlawed gangs active in Syria’s Idlib de-escalation zone, Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote.
The free-news.su news and analytics outlet reported, citing “opposition sources,” that the Syrian air force had allegedly killed the company’s leader Abu Salman al-Belarusi, also known as Abu Rofiq, in southern Idlib.
According to the news outlet, Abu Rofiq, 24, comes from Uzbekistan and speaks Russian well. Open sources say that the company comprises more than 50 militants, most of whom originate from Central Asia and the North Caucasus.
The media said earlier that Malhama Tactical members had demonstrated top combat efficiency in the city of Aleppo in 2016 and later in the Idlib and Latakia provinces.
They release videos on how to handle weapons and carry out military operations, while on Twitter, they invite “qualified instructors, promising good wages, a weekly day-off, and a stable and interesting job.”
“I don’t rule out that apart from Malhama Tactical, there also are other private military companies and organizations in Syria that provide training to terrorist groups fighting against Damascus,” said military expert Colonel Shamil Gareyev.
He pointed out that the media had reported about US military experts training former Syrian militants who ensured the security of organizations opposing the Assad regime. “These are private military companies, and only American ones, but their jihadist clones may emerge,” Gareyev noted.
“There is no information about the exact number of Russians and other CIS nationals fighting in Syria. However, I think there are many of them. Presuming that outlawed armed groups in Idlib consist of about 80,000 members, then there must be at least 5,000 to 6,000 Russian-speaking militants. Their wives and kids have started returning to Russia and other CIS countries. Chances are that once the militant groups are defeated, the terrorists and members of these jihadist private military companies, set up with the assistance of Russia’s enemies, will follow the women and children. We are bracing for that,” the expert emphasized.