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Cuba denies sending troops to fight in Syria

Senior diplomat in Havana calls claims of up to 300 soldiers deployed to back Assad ‘irresponsible and unfounded’

A boy waving a Cuban flag at a military parade in 2006. (CC BY Thomassin Mickaël, Flickr)
A boy waving a Cuban flag at a military parade in 2006. (CC BY Thomassin Mickaël, Flickr)

HAVANA — A senior official in Havana on Saturday “categorically” denied reports that Cuban troops were in Syria supporting the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Talk of up to 300 Cuban soldiers sent to Syria originated in the Fox News network on Wednesday, citing an unnamed US official as source.

The Fox story also mentioned that the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies learned that the head of the Cuban armed forces visited Syria with a military team to support the Assad regime.

The story has appeared in media outlets across the Middle East, although State Department spokesman John Kirby said Thursday that the report could not be verified.

On Saturday Gerardo Penalver Portal, the head of bilateral affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a brief statement that Cuba “refutes and categorically denies the irresponsible and unfounded information on the alleged presence of Cuban troops in Syria, which some media have echoed.”

Cuba has friendly relations with Russia and Iran, two of the countries supporting Assad, and has had cordial relations with Syria for decades.

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