Cuban troops are in Syria to help prop us embattled President Bashar al-Assad, joining Russia and Iran on the side of his government in its civil war, according to the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami.
The institute released a statement
on Tuesday saying it has learned that the head of the Cuban armed forces, Gen. Leopoldo Cintras Frias, had traveled to Syria with other Cuban military leaders to help the Syrian government.
"The Cuban military contingent will be primarily deployed in Syria manning Russian tanks provided to Assad by the Russians," said the institute. "It will also operate as a military force against ISIS and other opponents of the Assad regime."
The institute said Cuba's involvement in the Middle East brings into question about how serious the country is about improving relations with the United States, which opposes the Assad government.
"If this information about the presence of Cuban troops in Syria now is confirmed, it would indicate that Gen. Raul Castro is more interested in supporting his allies, Russia and Syria, than in continuing to normalize relations with the U.S.," said the institute.
"Raul Castro has expressed publicly his support for the Syrian regime and his solidarity with Russian and Iranian objectives in the Middle East. This new Cuban internationalism reaffirms one more time that the Castro's brothers are more interested in their role in the world in opposition to the U.S. than in modernizing Cuba and helping the Cuban people rise above their current misery."
An unnamed U.S. official told Fox News
that intelligence reports confirmed that Cuban paramilitary and special forces were on the battlefield in Syria. The source told Fox that the Cuban troops may have trained in Russian before moving on to Syria.
Iran's English language news network PressTV.com
said on Wednesday that Omran al-Zoubi, Syria's information minister, rejected charges that Iranian troops had taken up the fight on behalf of the Syrian government. Al-Zoubi said Iranian military officials are only providing Syrian with consultations.
"(Al-Zoubi) also rejected claims by certain media that Russia's military aid to Syria in the fight against terrorism is much to Iran's dismay, saying certain countries, including Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and their allies, are those who are fretting about Moscow's contribution to the anti-terror fight in Syria."
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