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Chechen, Dagestani, and other foreign fighters from Russia's North Caucasus region (and Georgia's Chechen-inhabited Pankisi Gorge) have formed some of the most formidable insurgent groupings in Syria's conflict despite their small numbers. Over the past year, however, their activity has slowed to a crawl, and their actions and statements suggest many of these fighters may look to exit the conflict area soon. The final militant leader or emir, Abdulhakim Shishani, has also almost disappeared from public view along with his group, Ajnad al-Kavkaz. Prior to last year, he along with his men were the most visible and successful North Caucasian-dominated militant faction in Syria. While Tarkhan himself is somewhere in Turkey, his fighters are active alongside Jund al-Sham in Hama province, against regime forces. There are also an unknown number of North Caucasian fighters with Daesh (ISIS) remnants in eastern Syria; one report from October claimed that Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had a "praetorian guard" of 800 Chechen fighters protecting senior leaders near the city of Mayadin. While this figure is almost certainly inflated, some Chechen and Dagestani fighters doubtless remain active with the group.The openly deteriorating morale among North Caucasian commanders in Syria could indicate that the situation among the rank and file is even worse.
Chechen and North Caucasian militants in Syria
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