Hindustan Times (Patna) - - FRONT PAGE -

BEI­JING: Chi­nese Mus­lim sep­a­ratists from the north­west re­gion of Xin­jiang are bat­tling Syr­ian gov­ern­ment forces along­side alQaeda and other ex­trem­ist groups, an of­fi­cial Chi­nese news­pa­per re­ported on Mon­day.

Rad­i­cals among China’s eth­nic Tur­kic Uighur mi­nor­ity have been trav­el­ling to Syria since May to join the fight­ing on trips or­ga­nized by groups op­posed to Bei­jing’s rule over Xin­jiang, the Global Times re­ported Mon­day.

Cit­ing uniden­ti­fied Chi­nese anti-ter­ror­ism au­thor­i­ties, it said the groups were fund­ing their ac­tiv­i­ties through drug and gun traf­fick­ing, kid­nap­ping and rob­bery, and pro­vid­ing train­ing for “sep­a­ratists, crim­i­nals and ter­ror­ists” who had fled Xin­jiang.

“Af­ter re­ceiv­ing or­ders from al Qaeda, ter­ror­ists from China came to Syria to meet with ji­hadists al­ready on the ground be­fore form­ing groups on the front lines,” the re­port quoted an uniden­ti­fied of­fi­cial as say­ing.

While for­eign ji­hadists have joined in the 19-month-long Syria con­flict that has killed more than 35,000 peo­ple, the pres­ence of fight­ers from China has not been pre­vi­ously re­ported.

The For­eign Min­istry said it had noted the re­port and called for stronger in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion in deal­ing with or­ga­ni­za­tions seek­ing to over­throw Chi­nese rule in Xin­jiang.

Such groups “not only dam­age China's state se­cu­rity, but threaten other coun­tries' peace and sta­bil­ity,” spokesman Hong Lei said at a reg­u­larly sched­uled news con­fer­ence.

The Global Times re­port sin­gled out two groups as fun­nel­ing fight­ers to Syria the East Turk­istan Is­lamic Move­ment and the East Turkestan Ed­u­ca­tion and Sol­i­dar­ity As­so­ci­a­tion based in Tur­key. East Turk­istan was the name given to two short-lived in­de­pen­dent Uighur re­publics in Xin­jiang, a vast Cen­tral Asian re­gion of moun­tains and deserts that has been flooded with eth­nic Chi­nese set­tlers in re­cent decades.

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