Russia Puts Flow of Foreign Fighters to Syria at Peak Iraq Level

Foreign jihadists are flocking to Syria in increasing numbers to fight President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, turning the country into a hub for global terrorism, a spokesman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry said.

Between 6,000 and 40,000 foreign fighters may be in Syria, Alexander Lukashevich told reporters today in Moscow, declining to say how many are Russian nationals.

“The flow of foreign mercenaries is comparable with the peak levels seen in Iraq in 2005-2007,” he said. “Despite all their efforts, illegal militant groups can’t turn the tide.”

Syria’s civil war, which began with peaceful protests in March 2011, has engulfed the nation and brought economic growth to a halt. U.S. military intelligence said last month that the civil war will probably continue for years as the country faces the prospect of “unfathomable violence” and growing power for Islamic radicals, including those allied with al-Qaeda.

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