YAROSLAVL, September 20. (Itar-Tass) – After a session of the Council of Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (RATS SCO), First Deputy Director of Russia’s Federal Security service Sergei Smirnov said: “As far as our country goes, we believe, that 300-400 people have ventured out to Syria, thus they’ll come back. This poses serious threat.”
The official said that the issue of militants returning from Syria was not discussed at the RATS session in particular. “However, we have met with a select few and exchanged opinions on the development of the situation, coming to the conclusion that all SCO countries are affected by this problem,” Smirnov said.
Regarding enlisting mercenaries, this practice indeed exists. “The law does not say how to prevent mercenary activities. We need to work on that,” the official added. He believes that legal tools are necessary to clamp down on “guns for hire” and to prosecute those guilty of the crime.
“We believe that the danger stems from them participating in military action, receiving experience; they’re now more engaged in terrorist ideology and are ready to act on it,” Smirnov said.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Foreign Ministry stated it has no information on Russian citizen participating in combat in Syria.
According to the Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic published earlier this month, Syrian rebels, fighting alongside foreign mercenaries, commit “war crimes, including murder, execution without due process, torture, hostage-taking and attacking protected objects. They have besieged and indiscriminately shelled civilian neighborhoods.”
In August Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich stated that foreign mercenaries fighting in Syria were trying to intimidate the Alawites and Kurds, committing mass murders, He also said that the flow of foreign mercenaries in Syria has reached the number that Iraq had in 2005-2007