DAMASCUS, SYRIA (2:00 P.M.) – In a bid to strengthen and modernize the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), Russian instructors have become heavily involved in training the SAA’s reservists for counter-insurgency operations against ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
A video report released by state-owned Russia-24 television channel shows Russian servicemen training SAA recruits in the use of machine guns, rifles and rocket-launchers at an undisclosed location on the outskirt of Damascus:
In 2016, the Russian Army trained and equipped the so-called ‘5th Legion’ to combat ISIS in central Syria. At the time, thousands of Syrians volunteered to become part of this Russian-trained wing of the SAA.
Under the reign of former President Hafez Al-Assad, Syria was a staunch ally of the Soviet Union from which it bought all its armored vehicles and gear. However, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and death of Hafez a few years down the road, the two nations become less involved in each other’s domains.
As the country’s rebellion then erupted in 2011, ties between Damascus and Moscow have become closer than ever before with Assad and Putin sharing a close partnership in, what they themselves call, the battle against terrorism.