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Syrian regime loyalists 'providing entertainment to Russian troops'

Russian soldiers patrolling Hmeimim airbase near Latakia, Syria [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 March, 2016

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A group of volunteers, mostly women, are helping Russian soldiers feel at home by providing them with 'recreational services', according to leaked documents published by an anti-regime website.
A Syrian anti-regime website has claimed that a group of loyalist women and men are providing "special services" to Russian soldiers stationed in Syria.

The opposition-leaning Syrian Mirror on Sunday published what it said was a cache of leaked documents, including ID cards and correspondence, showing that a regime-affiliated group of 82 people, more than half of whom are women, have volunteered to offer unspecified "recreational services" to Russian soldiers stationed near the city of Homs.

The New Arab cannot verify the authenticity of the documents.

Ataa Homs (The Giving of Homs), the group in question, reportedly consists of volunteers many of whom are graduates of Baath University in Homs or volunteers in auxillary groups linked to pro-regime militias.

Their main function is to provide assistance and entertainment to the 1300 Russian soldiers reportedly stationed at the Ibn al-Haitham Base in Homs, according to the documents published by Syria Mirror.
The volunteer group was created at the behest of an Air Force Intelligence officer, according to the leaked emails.

The officer, named as Ribal Rustom, pledged to offer full support to the group including financing, protection, transport and accomodation.

The documents contain some clues as to the nature of the services offered.

One, titled "a report on the third activity," said young women and men from Ataa Homs organised a party for the benefit of Russian soldiers at the Ibn al-Haitham base on January 7, 2016.

The Russian soldiers were impressed by the dance performances, the document said.
There are an estimated 4,000 Russian personnel in Syria, according to US security officials and independent experts.
Another alleged leaked email said the women in the group were demanding specialised medical care. It was suggested in the correspondence that they consult a gynecologist.

The same email recommended discretion and secrecy, and for the group's members to remain away from social media sites to "avoid problems".

Some of the emails described visits by the volunteers to the soldiers' dormitories, bringing them gifts and serving them drinks. 

The volunteers want to make the soldiers feel at home and show them gratitude for helping the Syrian army fight "terrorism", one email said.

It is worth noting that many members of the group have a background in linguistics and translation.

Russia intervened in the Syrian civil war alongside the regime of Bashar al-Assad in September last year.

There are an estimated 4,000 Russian personnel in Syria, according to US security officials and independent experts.

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