Skip to main content

Pakistan Taliban arrive in Syria, and more are to come, CNN told

By Zahir Shah Sherazi for CNN and Saima Mohsin, CNN
updated 10:17 PM EDT, Wed July 24, 2013
Syrian rebels inspect a tank left behind by government forces in the outskirts of Raqqa on July 1, 2013.
Syrian rebels inspect a tank left behind by government forces in the outskirts of Raqqa on July 1, 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • First batch of fighters has arrived, says Pakistan Taliban commander
  • Next batch of 150 will arrive next week, commander says
  • Taliban commander: Al Qaeda in Syria will command fighters

Peshawar (CNN) -- Taliban fighters from Pakistan say they have united with al Qaeda forces in Syria to fight the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The commander of the Pakistan Taliban, Abdul Rashid Abbasi, has told CNN that the first batch of fighters has arrived in Syria and established a command and control center to launch operational activities alongside Syrian rebel fighters. Abbasi, a close associate of Pakistan Taliban head Hakeemullah Mehsud, told CNN that 120 fighters are already in Syria.

The Taliban commander went on to say that another batch of fighters made up of 150 men will arrive in Syria this week.

Read: Syrian opposition questions Taliban rebel role

"We shall be sending more volunteers, but cannot give exact numbers at this moment, but we will provide whatever support is needed by our Syrian brothers," Abbasi told CNN.

UN: 5,000 Syrians killed monthly
Cousin: Bashar al-Assad has to go
UK still hasn't decided to arm rebels

CNN is unable to independently confirm that members of the Pakistan Taliban are inside Syria. CNN journalists have previously been inside Syria and seen foreign fighters participate in the country's civil war, which sprang from unrest sparked in the spring of 2011.

Read: Analyst: Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria now best-equipped of the group

Abbasi said the fighters were sent after the Pakistan Taliban received a request from the al Qaeda operational commander in Syria, Abu Omar Baghdadi.

Pakistan Taliban fighters will be under the command and control structure of al Qaeda in Syria, as it is leading the operation, he said.

The Pakistan Taliban said it has also asked its local chapters in the Mohmand, Bajaur, Khyber, Orakzai and Waziristan agencies to recruit fresh fighters who are willing to go on their mission in Syria. The Pakistan Taliban says many young men are registering to go on their first foreign mission.

But the Pakistan Taliban said it will remain based in Pakistan.

"We have lots of fighters here and our central command will be operating from here, so there is no reason to stop operations in Pakistan," Abbasi said. "They will go on as usual."

Israel trains for border clash with Syria

Zahir Shah Sherazi reported for CNN from Peshawar, and CNN's Saima Mohsin reported from Islamabad.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:42 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Successful launch of lunar orbiter, seen as a precursor for a planned mission to the surface of the moon, marks significant advance for the country's space program.
updated 3:15 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
updated 6:08 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
CEO's 30-min Putonghua chat is the perfect charm offensive for Facebook's last untapped market.
updated 11:45 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
updated 4:58 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
updated 10:14 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
updated 11:33 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
updated 12:07 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
updated 1:48 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
updated 5:59 AM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT