Now Syria denies presence of Cuban Special Forces
HAVANA, Cuba – Syria’s Information minister Omran al-Zoabi has denied any presence of Cuban troops in his country and said that help from Russia is more than enough to fight terrorism.
In statements to the local Ikhbariya TV channel on Tuesday, al-Zoabi said that Russia and Iran are sharing the same positions with Syria in relation to the fighting against armed extremist groups.
Referring to the reason for Russia’s presence in Syria, the official said that the current war has global character and terrorism is a cross-border threat endangering regional and international security.
In a recent official statement, the Cuban foreign ministry denied any presence of Cuban troops in Syria by terming some media speculation on the issue as irresponsible and false reports.
American officials had earlier confirmed a report from the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies that Cuban Special Forces are operating on the ground in Syria in defence of dictator Bashar al-Assad, and are expected to operate Russian tanks in battles against anti-Assad rebels.
In a press release, the Miami institute revealed that there was evidence General Leopoldo Cintra Frias, head of the Cuban Armed Forces, had visited Syria recently and consulted with both Assad’s generals and Russian advisers, who are in Syria to defend Assad against assorted militias, including the Islamic State terrorist group.
Their report suggests that Syrian troops have been reinforced with Russian technology, particularly armoured vehicles, but that Assad’s soldiers are untrained in operating these vehicles and will need the Cubans’ help.
“It will also operate as a military force against ISIS and other opponents of the Assad regime,” the Institute said of the Cuban contingent.
Fox News confirmed the report with a US official, who cited intelligence reports that confirmed Frias’ presence. The source told Fox News that Russian planes may have shipped the Cuban soldiers to Syria, as Cuban military personnel often train in Russia before returning home. In addition to the US official, Fox News cites the Institute’s report indicating that an “Arab military officer” saw Cubans in the Damascus airport.
The PanAmerican Post reports that, in addition to Frias’ consulting help, it is estimated that around 300 Cuban soldiers are currently operating in Syria.