LA gang members claim they have joined Assad’s forces in Syria
In a video posted online, pair boast that they fighting with Assad's forces
Two Los Angeles gang members appear to have joined the flow of foreigners flocking to fight in Syria - in this instance, on the side of President Bashar al-Assad.
In a video posted online, the two men boast that they are on the front lines and fire their guns in the direction of what they call "the enemigos".
One of the men identifies himself as Creeper from the Sur-13 or Surenos, a loose affiliation of southern California gangs linked to the Mexican mafia. He rolls up his sleeves to show his gang tattoos and greets fellow gang members Capone-E and Crazy Loco.
The other says he is called Wino, and that he belongs to a gang called Westside Armenian Power. Members of the Armenian Christian minority in Syria are known to be staunch supporters of Assad.
The two men do not reveal much about what they are doing or why they are fighting for Assad.
"It's Syria, homie, we're in Syria, homie … Front line, homie, front line, homie," says Wino.
"In Middle East, homie, in Syria, still gangbanging," says Creeper, in comments typical of the 21/2-minute video.
The video, posted on the Middle East Media Research Institute's website, www.memritv.org is subtitled and contains strong profanity.
The video could not be independently verified.
The Middle East Media Research Institute is a pro-Israel group that monitors media in the region. It said that it had identified Wino as Nerses Kilajyan, whose Facebook page features multiple photographs apparently taken in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.
In some, Wino is seen posing with fighters from the Shiite Hezbollah militia. In others, he is pictured with the man who calls himself Creeper. The dates on the photographs suggest the pair have been in Syria for about a year.
It was also unclear whether they are US citizens. So far, there have been no reported instances in which Americans have volunteered to fight in Syria on behalf of Assad, though at least 50 US citizens are believed to have travelled there to join the rebels, according to congressional testimony by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper last month.
Thousands of Arabs, Europeans and Sunni Muslims of other nationalities have flooded into Syria, most of them joining radical Islamist groups.
Thousands of Iraqi and Lebanese Shiite Muslims are meanwhile reported to be fighting on the side of Assad's government, as well as Iranians, some Russians and smaller numbers of Afghans, Pakistanis and other Arabs.