Vladimir Putin Recruits Syrian Mercenaries into Russia’s Armed Forces

The Russian president Vladmir Putin and his defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, recently announced that up to 16,000 combatants from the Middle East will join the war effort against Ukraine. As Ben Evansky and Benjamin Weinthal report, the Russian recruitment operation is primarily based in the Syrian Arab Republic. This may signal not only an increase in Russia’s numbers, but a change in their tactics, with the potential for heightened urban warfare and greater civilian casualties.

Brigadier General Ahmad Rahal, who resigned in protest from the Syrian military in 2012 over the policies of President Bashar Assad and joined the opposition Free Syrian Army, told Fox News Digital that the Russians will use Syrian and other mercenaries to carry out the “dirty tasks” of fighting in the cities, which will lead to more civilian deaths and will help them avoid being blamed for the war crimes.

He added, “As a military observer, it is clear that the Russian army had to change its military plans. At first the Russians wanted a classic war, a war of armies, and the task assigned to the Russian army was a lightning and quick operation that President Putin called a ‘special operation’ through which the Ukrainian army would be crushed and then the leadership would collapse in the capital Kyiv, but this did not happen.”

Richard Kemp, who commanded British troops in Afghanistan, told Fox News Digital, “It’s not clear how many Syrians or other fighters from the Middle East are likely to answer Russia’s call. They will have to be paid significant amounts to volunteer to do so. There is no doubt that among them will be Islamic State jihadists who might be looking to stay in Russia or even travel on from there to Western Europe. They are likely to be disappointed if that is their aim, unless Putin is looking to help some of them infiltrate westwards.”

Kemp noted that “Middle Eastern fighters will be used to a completely different form of conflict than they will find in Ukraine. They are unlikely to be a match for well-armed and organized Ukrainian forces, but Putin will be happy to throw them away as cannon fodder.”

Read more at FDD

More about: Syrian civil war, Vladimir Putin, War in Ukraine

Hamas Wants a Renewed Ceasefire, but Doesn’t Understand Israel’s Changed Attitude

Yohanan Tzoreff, writing yesterday, believes that Hamas still wishes to return to the truce that it ended Friday morning with renewed rocket attacks on Israel, but hopes it can do so on better terms—raising the price, so to speak, of each hostage released. Examining recent statements from the terrorist group’s leaders, he tries to make sense of what it is thinking:

These [Hamas] senior officials do not reflect any awareness of the changed attitude in Israel toward Hamas following the October 7 massacre carried out by the organization in the western Negev communities. They continue to estimate that as before, Israel will be willing to pay high prices for its people and that time is working in their favor. In their opinion, Israel’s interest in the release of its people, the pressure of the hostages’ families, and the public’s broad support for these families will ultimately be decisive in favor of a deal that will meet the new conditions set by Hamas.

In other words, the culture of summud (steadfastness), still guides Hamas. Its [rhetoric] does not show at all that it has internalized or recognized the change in the attitude of the Israeli public toward it—which makes it clear that Israel still has a lot of work to do.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security