Bilal Abdul Kareem from On The Ground News interviewed Abu Salman Al-Belarusi, who is the head of Malhama Tactical, a private contractor in Syria that trains the Al-Qaeda-affiliated HTS and other groups. Al-Belarusi spoke about a recent HTS raid on Al-Tarabiya, a village on the north side of Hama, in which several high-ranking SAA and Russian military personnel were killed. Al-Belarusi said that the attack was planned and that more operations of this sort will be carried out in the future. The interview was uploaded to On The Ground News on YouTube on November 13, 2018.
Bilal Abdul Kareem: We are in one of the training camps here in northern Syria, but this is not your normal training camp. Just a few days ago, in a place called Tarabiya, there was a very audacious night attack which took place. Twenty-five people were killed from a compound which was manned by Russian and Syrian Arab Army troops. Several of those which were killed were also Russian officials – high-ranking military officials. These are the people who carried out that audacious attack. We're going to be talking to them, trying to figure out what their motivations were, and see exactly what their training is like.
We're now here with Abu Salman. Abu Salman is one of the trainers of those who took part in the Tarabiya operation. Abu Salman, what happened exactly in Tarabiya?
Abu Salman Al-Belarusi: A few days ago we carried out a brilliant operation in Tarabiya, Northern Hama, which is close to Halfaya. This is deep inside enemy territory. We were able to eliminate a large number of regime forces, among whom there were four high-ranking Syrian officers and seven Russians. There was perfect coordination among the brothers on a tactical level as they managed to storm their way into the Reconciliation Center. All enemies inside the compound were killed. The brothers made their way back without any casualties among them. We initially thought that one of our members was killed during the operation, but later on, he returned and there weren't any wounded. The regime has recognized its losses, and the road between Souran and Morek is closed. Russian military police is patrolling the area. The operation was well-planned. Brothers were having intense training for four months, days and nights, in order to perform in the best way. Hopefully, we will continue to carry out these kinds of operations and cause losses to the enemy such as killing high-ranking officers.
Bilal Abdul Kareem: Was this a revenge attack because of what happened in Latamina just a few days ago, when 19 of the group known as Jaish Al-Izza were killed by a treacherous attack by the regime forces. Was this a revenge attack because of that?
Abu Salman Al-Belarusi: We have planned many operations like this, but we decided to dedicate it to our brothers after they got killed and made it as revenge. We were very successful and will continue to perform such operations and cause damage to the enemy.
Bilal Abdul Kareem: What's your opinion about the Sochi agreement? Of course everyone knows the Sochi agreement, the cessation of hostilities, if you want to call it that. What's your opinion?
Abu Salmen Al-Belarusi: This is a political game and fraud. The regime and Russian criminals want to buy time in order to make an attack in the future, because they will not leave those who oppose the regime in freed territories alone. I think they will begin attacking soon, destroying the opposition forces as well as the civilians, as they were already doing before. That is why I think all of this is just buying time and we are ready to repel any attack and will continue our work.
Bilal Abdul Kareem: My final question to you is this. You specifically targeted Russian personnel, even though there were Syrian military officials there also. But you were specifically targeting Russian personnel. Why?
Abu Salman Al-Belarusi: Our struggle against Putin's and his buddies' occupation forces has been ongoing for a long time. We have made it our priority to target the Russians who came here to kill Muslims for money. Putin thinks himself as a god. He has been spreading chaos and attacking his neighbors, Ukrainians and Georgians who are Christians as a Russian people. Now he has started bombing civilians, women and kids here. We will continue our work and we have planned many operations, and hopefully will not let any occupation forces remain here. There are many examples of those who were small in numbers but fought and history did not forget them. We hope that history will remember us as those who fought to protect the weak against evil.