De-mining: Belarus sappers may be sent to Syria?


Belarusian authorities may send its sappers troops to Syria, but there has not been any official order yet, an anonymous source told belsat.eu.

“On January 21, the Engineering Troops Day, one of the commanders said that ‘ruling circles’ had asked to send de-miners to Syria. Although it was an informal conversation, but I believe that if there is an order from the Ministry, some people selected will be forced to go there,” the source says.

Moreover, Belarusian experts have been already spotted in Syria – they monitored air defense systems (perhaps S-300 surface-to-air systems), the source stresses.

“Then they were not contractors, their work was wrapped as a business trip. I know it for sure, because people from my unit were involved. I think this time they will fix it in the same way,” our source adds.

The Belarusian Ministry of Defense does not comment on the situation; the Engineering Troops command neither confirms nor denies the information provided by the source.

Military expert and journalist Alyaksandr Alesin believes that the rumours might well turn out to be the truth.

“De-mining is not a military operation, but a peacekeeping activity. It is similar to the activity being carried out by the UN peacekeepers. Many countries have appropriate mandates, including Belarus. If our peacekeepers are sent to Syria by the UN, a certain amount of money covering all the risks will have to be paid to them,” the expert says.

According to Alesing, the case is de-mining urban areas, e.g Aleppo and other big cities.

“In the cities lots of mines remain; local and Russian engineers cannot defuse all of them. It is likely that there will be representatives of other CSTO countries. If the process is not under the auspices of the UN, therefore, it will be organised on the basis of an intergovernmental agreement between Damascus and Minsk. In any case, the Belarusian military missions to the territory of another state should be personally authorised by the commander-in-chief [Alyaksandr Lukashenka],”Alesin says.

During the 2011 armed conflict in Libya, there were some media reports about Belarusian servicemen fighting on the side of Gaddafi. However, the Ministry of Defense refuted them.

***

In July 2017, Russia suggested that CIS countries, including Belarus, should send troops to Syria for joint monitoring in de-escalation zones. But the point at issue was peacekeepers, not military personnel. Later, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry stated that they had not received any official paper concerning a peacekeeping mission from the Russian side.

Katsyaryna Andreyevа, belsat.eu

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