Two North Korean military units are fighting on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad in the Syria conflict. Asaad Al-Zoubi, the head of the Syrian opposition’s High Negotiations Committee delegation, told Russian news agency TASS that North Koreans have committed troops to the civil war. According to Al-Zoubi, the two units are called Chalma-1 and Chalma-2.
The Syrian delegate provided the information as he attended Syria peace talks at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva. Al-Zoubi added there are fighters from Iran and Afghanistan fighting on behalf of Assad. Russia’s Sputnik International also confirmed the Syrian representative’s statement on North Korean soldiers in the Middle East, and quoted Al-Zoubi as saying the “North Korean troops are fatally dangerous” during an explanation of the presence of foreign troops in the Syrian civil war.
The civil war has continued for five years, and the opposition and the Assad regime are at odds regarding the details of a peace negotiation. But Pyongyang maintains friendly ties with the dictatorship in Damascus, and Russia has supported Assad’s rule. North Korea’s presence in the Middle East conflict is unprecedented, but the two countries have cultivated military ties for many years.
North Korea has been a staunch ally of the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, opposed by the Islamic State, and Pyongyang helped Syria build a nuclear facility destroyed by an Israeli air raid in 2007. Last September Syria dedicated a park to former North Korean leader Kim Il Sung.