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I am wondering, in horror, what would a well-trained platoon of TIP terrorists do if it were to overrun a village in China. In the two last decades, Uyghur separatists carried out hundreds of terrorist attacks in China, killing countless people. But they never held an entire village anywhere in the PRC.
In As Suqaylabiyah I sit across a table from the commander of NDF (National Defense Force), Nabel Al-Abdallah. We speak Russian. He takes me; drives me, to the frontline, all the way to the edge, where Al Nusra positions are clearly visible. Then he invites me back, to this beautiful part of Syria, when "all this madness is over".
Back at his command center, he explains:
"We are not afraid of Uyghurs, but we are taking their threat very seriously. Look, inside the Idlib area which is controlled by them, terrorism 'grows'. If, after improving his combat skills here, a fighter returns to China, it would represent a tremendous danger. Uyghurs are the worst fighters; the toughest fighters. And right in front of us Idlib is the world capital of terror. It is a laboratory of terrorism. There are terrorists from all over the world. There, Uyghurs are learning the deadliest trades."
He pauses, offers me aromatic Syrian tea. Then continues with his thoughts:
"Uyghur terrorists are targeting our people. They are brutalizing them. If we do not have solutions, soon, terrorists will damage the entire world. Our problem is not just Uyghurs and ISIS, not only TIP or Nusra. Our problem is the ideology which they represent. They use Islam, they commit barbarity in the name of Islam, but all this is backed by the United States and the West. The Syrian Army and National Defense Forces are sacrificing their soldiers for the world, not just for this country."
There are conflicting reports, as for how many Uyghurs fighters are still inside Syria. The generally accepted number is around 2,000, but that includes families.
Commander Nabel clarified:
"400 to 500 fighters are now in Idlib area. And all international terrorists based in Idlib are under Al-Nusra Front command. They are supported by Qatar, United States, Saudis, and Turkey. Officers of the U.S. intelligence are there inside my country. There are Turkish observation points, Turkish military forces."
Again, I am being driven along the front line. I visited several Syrian positions and towns, including As Suqaylabiyah. It is still war here, around Idlib real, tough war. Mortars are exploding not far from us, and landmines are being discovered and defused in the vicinity. People are dying; they still are.
Near Muhradah, at the Mahardah Power Station which was recently liberated by the SAA, soldiers discovered several charred bodies. I was told, they were most likely "Asian" terrorists. But were they Indonesians or Uyghurs, nobody could tell.
The leader of the National Syrian Defense in Muhradah, clarified:
"Uyghurs are tough fighters. They are under Al-Nusra front. They are very evasive, operating under different names. They are all there inside in Idlib. When Idlib falls, they will fall together with it."
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