Syria: video shows pro-Assad LA gang members fighting in the civil war
The men claim to be from the Surenos and Westside Armenian Power LA gangs.
Two alleged Los Angeles gang members have reportedly joined the string of foreigners fighting in Syria's civil war, the Los Angeles Police Department has confirmed (LAPD).
In video footage reportedly shot in the Middle Eastern country, the men boast that they are on the “front line” and fire their guns in the direction of "the enemigos” (enemies).
One of the men rolls up his shirt sleeve to reveal gang tattoos, and claims to be Creeper from the Sur-13 or Surenos - a group loosely affiliated with Mexican-mafia-linked southern Californian gangs.
Creeper’s companion in the video says he is Wino of the Westside Armenian Power gang.
“It's Syria, homie, we're in Syria, homie. Frontline, homie, frontline, homie,” says Wino.
However, unusually for those who travel to fight in the conflict, the men are pro-Bashar Al-Assad, but members of the Armenian Christian minority in Syria have been known to be hard-line Assad supporters.
Mike Downing, LAPD Chief for Counterterrorism, told ABC News that they had seen the video online and on Facebook.
It was originally distributed on 1 March by the Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri), which monitors media in the region.
"We're kind of concerned about their recruitment and whatever other associates they have here [LA]. We predicted this would happen — the [organized crime and terrorism] convergence. What we're worried about is the ones we don't know about here or coming back to the US," said Downing.
He also confirmed to the US network that the subjects are gang members, one Armenian and the other Latino, fighting with Hezbollah militias to defend Assad.
He added, one, if not both, of the men were deported from the US long ago and are not citizens, citing the gangsters’ public social networking posts as evidence.
According to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper during a congressional testimony last month, there have been no reported instances of Americans voluntarily fighting for Assad in Syria, but around 50 are believed to have joined the rebel forces.
European citizens have also travelled to Syria to fight in the conflict, in moves which politicians fear will see young people returning to their countries radicalised and dangerous.
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