Approximately 450 members of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda) have headed to Ukraine to fight against the Russian army.
The militants left Syria on March 5th, travelling through Turkey to arrive in Ukraine. The militants consist of both Arab and foreign nationals, as militias in Syria allow foreigners to join their ranks.
Many of those who have gone to Ukraine are veterans of the US-backed war against the Syrian government and were offered this task as a means to resolve a dispute between the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham leadership and soldiers.
There are suggestions that the Syrian born fighters will receive an income of between $1,200 – $1,500 (US). It is not known at this stage how much income foreign born fighters will receive.
On March 4th Russian intelligence services warned that the US was sending extremist militants from Idlib (Syria) to Ukraine to fight against Russia. Moscow has accused Washington of training these extremist militants at the US Al-Tanf military base in southeastern Syria.
On a positive note, the two sides have been negotiating in Belarus which could potentially lead to a ceasefire agreement.