Beijing: A number of Uighur Muslims from China`s volatile Xinjiang province are being trained in Pakistan-based militant camps and then sent to Syria to fight against President Bashar al-Assad regime, the Syrian envoy here has said.
"Our informant told us around 30 young Uyghur men went to Pakistan to receive military training and then went to Turkey," Syrian Ambassador to China Imad Moustapha told state-run Global Times today.
"Our estimate is that there are around 30 Chinese involved. We believe the reason they went to Turkey after training in Pakistan is to go to Syria. Most probably, they are now fighting in the northern city of Aleppo but we`re not sure about this," he said.
Significantly his allegations carried in Chinese state media comes just ahead of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif`s five day visit here beginning July 4.
The issue will figure in Chinese leaders talks with Sharif as one such militant was captured in Xinjiang recently.
His capture took place amid large-scale violence in the province bordering Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
China believes Western media are encouraging "terrorism" in Xinjiang by misrepresenting violence in the region and the militants operating there are linked to some Syrian Islamist rebel groups who are allied to al Qaeda.
"What we know for sure is they were trained in Pakistan and then travelled to Turkey. Our informant who is based in one military camp in Pakistan told us there are 30 of them, but that doesn`t mean there are not more of them," the Syrian Ambassador said.
Memeti Aili, an Uighur who fought in Syria, was recently arrested on return. He plotted to "carry out violent attack and improve fighting skills" from East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a separatist group fighting in Xinjiang.
ETIM is a terrorist group that aims to create an Islamist state in Xinjiang, the Global Times report said.
A Chinese anti-terrorism official told the daily that about 100 people like Memeti Aili had travelled to Syria to join the fighting alongside Syrian rebels since last year.
"Their purpose is to overcome their fears, improve their fighting skills and gain experience in carrying out terror attacks," according to the official who declined to be named.