Chechens played key role in Syria, honed skills before returning home

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WASHINGTON — Chechen fighters have been playing a major role in Syria.

Omar al Chechen and fighters from the Muhajireen Brigade in Syria.
Omar al Chechen and fighters from the Muhajireen Brigade.

Opposition sources and Western analysts agreed that Saudi Arabia has facilitated the recruitment of more than 1,000 Islamist fighters from Russia’s autonomous Chechnya. They said the Chechens significantly bolstered their presence in the Sunni revolt in Syria since Riyad assumed responsibility for the war against the regime of President Bashar Assad in late 2013.

“One group of foreign fighters is especially worth noting,” David Kilcullen, chairman of Caerus Associates, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 26.

“Chechens from the Caucasus, Uzbeks from Central Asia, and Tatars from the Crimea have traveled to Syria in recent years to fight a key Russian ally, learn military skills and participate in the jihad at a time when Russian operations, and those of Russia’s local allies, have made it harder to operate in the Caucasus.”

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