European officials fear technicians connected to the Syrian military’s infamous barrel bombs that have left a path of destruction throughout most of the country have been deployed by Russia to possibly help prepare for a similar campaign in Ukraine. More than 50 specialists, all of whom possess wide-ranging abilities in making and delivering the devastating explosive, have been in Russia for the past several weeks working alongside officials from Vladimir Putin’s military, according to intelligence officers.
Officials fear up to 1,000 Syrian troops have so far volunteered to travel to Russia, and have been promised salaries of between $1,500 (£1,200) and $4,000 (£3,200) by the Kremlin – up to 20 times the amounts they would earn in Syria, whose economy has been crushed.
The Syrian Government has set up four recruiting centres – in Damascus, Latakia, Hama and Homs – for the Russian deployment
This will only add to recent warnings from the EU and within Europe that Putin may have been preparing for the use of chemical weapons in the war in Ukraine, which began exactly three months ago.
One European official told The Guardian: “This is probably why we haven’t seen them cross the border.
“We know the capacity is there, but if they use it, they lose; we will know who’s done it, and they will likely be killed anyway.”
Barrel bombs, which are explosives packed into a drum and released from a helicopter, had a terrifying impact on the Syrian war.
The Syrian regime was also frequently accused of filling canisters with chlorine and dropping them on opposition-held towns and cities.
In Ukraine, the country’s troops are armed with lethal ground to air missiles capable of taking down Russian jets and helicopters, stalling advances and exposing ground forces to withering artillery fire.
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“We know for a fact that the Kremlin cut them loose.”
But since then, the Wagner Group have played a key role for Russia.
Its forces were among the first deployed into Ukraine and have faced accusations of committing atrocities in Bucha, Kyiv Oblast, where some 1,000 people were massacred over a few days early last month.
The latest move adds to fears Putin could launch a nuclear attack as he becomes desperate in turning around the failing fortunes of Russia’s army in the war with Ukraine.
Russian forces have unleashed explosives on many cities throughout Ukraine, inflicting mass carnage and forcing millions of terrified civilians to flee in fear of Putin’s brutal regime.
But Russian troops have been met with fierce and courageous resistance from their Ukrainian counterparts, who have pushed them out of cities they had been confident of occupying.