According to the Syrian rebels and the Arab and Israeli media, North Korean advisors are now aiding the military forces of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.
However, reports regarding North Korean officers in the field are relatively rare. In an interview to Asharq Al-Awsat, director of a Syrian human rights center, Rami Abed A-Rachman, said that the number of North Korean officers in Syria is unknown, although there are definitely between 11 and 15 Arabic speaking North Korean officers in Aleppo.
Abed A-Rachman, whose organization releases daily reports on the fighting in Syria since the civil war broke out more than two years ago, said that “the North Korean officers are spread throughout many fronts, including the Syrian Defense Ministry factories southeast of Aleppo and in the regime’s forces centers in Aleppo.” He claimed that they do not take part in the actual fighting, yet provide the Assad army with logistic support and construct operational plans. “They also supervise the regime’s artillery in the region,” he said.
This is not the first time links are made between Assad’s regime and the North Korean regime, both of which – together with the Iranian regime – have been branded by former US President George W. Bush as members of the “axis of evil”. According to foreign reports, North Korea aided Assad in constructing the nuclear reactor that Israel allegedly destroyed in an aerial strike in 2007.
The North Korean advisors join the thousands of Hezbollah fighters who are fighting alongside Syrian government forces. The Syrian government is also receiving arms shipments from Iran and Russia.
The Syrian Civil War is becoming less an internal Syrian conflict and more a regional proxy war that may yet draw the United States and its NATO allies.