What are 5,000 Chinese fighters doing in Syria?

Beijing is worried about Uighurs, a mostly Muslim people who speak a Turkic language, fighting alongside ISIS in the war-torn Levant.

By REUTERS
May 9, 2017 13:09
ISIS

A rebel fighter takes away a flag that belonged to Islamic State militants in Akhtarin village, after rebel fighters advanced in the area, in northern Aleppo Governorate, Syria, October 7, 2016. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Up to 5,000 ethnic Uighurs from China's violence-prone far western region of Xinjiang are fighting in various militant groups in Syria, the Syrian ambassador to China Imad Moustapha said on Monday, adding that Beijing should be extremely concerned about it.
 
China is worried that Uighurs, a mostly Muslim people who speak a Turkic language, have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight for militants there, having travelled illegally via Southeast Asia and Turkey.


Moustapha told Reuters on the sidelines of a business forum that while some of the Uighurs were fighting with Islamic State, most were fighting "under their own banner" to promote their separatist cause.


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Syria is trying to woo back Chinese investment, with a group of about 30 Syrian businessman meeting about 100 Chinese representatives over two days in Beijing.


Aboud Sarrouf, chairman of the Sarrouf Group and member of the Syria-China Business Council, said they were hoping to get Chinese investment to help repair war-damaged infrastructure.

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