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One of the most heavily discussed groupings of foreign fighters in Syria are those from Chechnya and the North Caucasus.Chechen and North Caucasian militants began arriving in Syria at roughly the same time as other foreign fighters. Umar left the 700-strong group in early 2013, at which time he was replaced by another Chechen commander, Salahuddin Shishani.Around this time, a crucial event occurred which spurred North Caucasian emigration to Syria. This was reflected in the attitudes among the insurgency itself, with one fighter stating that jihad in the North Caucasus had become "1,000 times harder than in Syria".North Caucasian fighters coalesced into two main such groupings, Junud al-Sham and Ajnad al-Kavkaz (a third, Jaysh al-Usro, would emerge later).This path was nearly unique to Chechen fighters, with Jund al-Aqsa the only other notable group to emerge as an independent; it is possible the reputation of the Chechen fighters and their attractiveness as allies allowed them to avoid formal cooptation, in contrast to what happened to many other factions.At their peak, North Caucasian militants formed a significant portion of jihadi combat strength in Syria.
What next for the Chechen and North Caucasian fighters in Syria?
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