This video grab from the Turkistan Islamic Party’s website shows a TIP fighter preparing to fire a missile, during a battle against the Syrian regime forces, in Aleppo.
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Many don't speak Arabic and their role in Syria is little-known to the outside world, but the Chinese fighters of the Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria are organized, battled-hardened and have been instrumental in ground offensives against President Bashar Assad's forces in the country's northern regions. Thousands of Chinese militants have come to Syria since the country's civil war began in March 2011 to fight against government forces and their allies. But the majority of Chinese militants are with the Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria, whose vast majority are Chinese Muslims, particularly those from the Turkic-speaking Uighur majority native to Xinjiang in China. Their growing role in Syria has resulted in increased cooperation between Syrian and Chinese intelligence agencies who fear those same militants could one day return home and cause trouble there. Rami Abdel-Rahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said there are about 5,000 Chinese fighters in Syria, most of them with the TIP fighters in northern Syria who along with their families numer about 20,000 . Li, the terrorism expert, said Abdel-Rahman's numbers are way too high, adding that he believes the number is about 300 Chinese fighters in Syria who brought with them about 700 family members.
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