North Korea denies aiding Syrian regime in fight against rebels

Belligerent N Korea denies reports it is sending military aid, officers to aid Assad. In past, suspicions believed North behind Syrian nuclear reactor allegedly attacked by Israel

Unlike Hezbollah, North Korea has denied it was sending military aid to the Syrian government, one of its few close allies, in its battle against rebel forces after media reports said that Pyongyang had sent advisors and helicopter pilots.


"Some foreign media are floating misinformation that the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) supplied war equipment to Syria, its airmen are directly involved in air-raids on insurgent troops in Syria," the North's state run KCNA news agency said late on Thursday.


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The Jerusalem Post reported in October that 15 North Korean helicopter pilots were operating in Syria "on behalf of President Bashar Assad's regime" and said the report had been confirmed by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.


North Korean military parade (Photo: AFP)
North Korean military parade (Photo: AFP)

Other reports have identified North Korean artillery officers as being in Syria, although they were said not to be directing fire.


North Korea has long-standing ties with Syria and constructed a plutonium reactor there that was destroyed by an alleged Israeli strike reported by foreign media sources in 2007. It also has links with Syria's chemical weapons program.


Under a deal brokered by Russia and the United States, Assad agreed to destroy all Syria's chemical weapons after Washington threatened to use force in response to a sarin gas attack that killed hundreds of people on Aug. 21.


Japanese media reports in August said Turkey had intercepted a shipment of gas masks and small arms from North Korea to Syria.


The North is under United Nations sanctions for its nuclear weapons and missile program and its role in proliferating nuclear and missile technology.


Last March a Syrian opposition human rights organization claimed that officers from the North Korean army are aiding Bashar Assad's forces in their fight against the rebels in Aleppo. According to the organization, a few of Assad's civilian militia fighters revealed the presence of the North Korean officers in the war zones.


The Syrian regime has been claiming for a long time that among the rebels fighting it across the country there are many fighters from oversees, sent by "Syria's enemies" such as Saudi Arabia, Israel or the US. Assad no longer denies his army is aided by thousands of Lebanese Hezbollah fighters.


At the time, in an interview to Asharq Al-Awsat, director of a Syrian human rights center, Rami Abed A-Rachman, claimed that the number of North Korean officers in Syria is unknown, although there are definitely between 11 and 15 Arabic speaking North Korean officers in Aleppo.


Abed A-Rachman said at the time that "the North Korean officers are spread throughout many fronts, including the Syrian Defense Ministry factories southeast of Aleppo and in the regime's forces centers in Aleppo." He claimed that they do not take part in the actual fighting, yet provide the Assad army with logistic support and construct operational plans. "They also supervise the regime's artillery in the region," he said.



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פרסום ראשון: 11.15.13, 09:32
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