Caucasus Emirate branch highlights fighters in Syria

Flag of the Caucasus Emirate in Syria

The Caucasus Emirate branch Vilayat Kabarda, Balkaria, and Karachay (KBK) recently released a video in which fighters from the Caucasus Emirate’s (CE) wing in Syria are shown partaking in battles in northwestern Syria. It is unknown if all the fighters shown in the video are from Vilayat KBK, other branches of the CE, or local members of the group.

The video, entitled “On the frontlines in Syria,” was released by Vilayat KBK’s IslamDin media. It begins with fighters participating in a battle, which is indicated to be near the “Shia villages of Fua and Kafraya” in Syria’s northwestern Idlib Province. The two villages are the last remaining regime-allied holdouts in the province. Combat scenes are shown, combined with archival photos of CE fighters in Syria.

It is not clear when the footage was filmed, however, a date at the beginning of the video indicates that it was filmed sometime this year.

It also marks one of, if not the first time, that a CE media wing originating in the North Caucasus has released a video of its branch in Syria. Previously, the videos were released by media organizations based in Syria, like Akhbar Sham. This shows that not only is the branch active, but that it is being treated as the official Syrian branch of the CE with actual operational ties to the parent organization in the North Caucasus.

The Caucasus Emirate, an al Qaeda-linked organization, has had at least two official representative groups inside Syria fighting alongside al Qaeda’s forces.

The first active group was the Chechen-led Jaysh al Muhajireen wal Ansar (JMA), which was founded by Omar Shishani, who later went on to become the Islamic State’s military leader. JMA would then be led by Salahuddin Shishani, who was eventually removed from the post with the help from the Al Nusrah Front. JMA then subsequently pledged allegiance to Al Nusrah, which is now folded within a new entity in Syria.

Salahuddin Shishani then created another official branch of the Caucasus Emirate, calling itself the aptly-named Caucasus Emirate in Syria, and pledged allegiance to the then-CE emir, Abu Usman Gimrinski. He would be removed from this post, as well, but the CE in Syria continues to exist. The CE in Syria has released several other videos of its forces fighting alongside Jund al Aqsa, an al Qaeda front group, and the Al Nusrah Front. Members of the Vilayat KBK have also been previously documented with the CE in Syria and with JMA. Former fighters of the CE can also be found in several other North Caucasian groups operating in Syria.

Screenshots from the video:

An American-made M2 Browning machine gun can be seen in the background:

Portions of the video were translated by Justin Tomczyk, a student of Russian language at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. 

Caleb Weiss is an intern at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a contributor to The Long War Journal.

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2 Comments

  • tuffsnotenuff says:

    You realize that these are mercenaries, right ??

    This also adds another question to the heap connected to the Muslim Ban out of Geliebten Diktator Lügner. How could a serious national security restriction not apply to the Chechens and other groups well known for supplying Islamist mercs and suicide freaks?

  • Ken says:

    Unlike say, the American Revolutionary War, a war of independence, and other wars of independence, these Islamic fighters are fighting to dominate people and to take away their independence. The Islamic fighters are therefore fighting a war of anti-revolution to take away hard won freedoms.

    What I find hard to understand is how could young men get behind an effort to dominate people. Usually the young think about freedom and are idealistic. Islamic youth think about dominating people and having helping despots to exercise authority over others.

    It is strange. Islamic youth are willing to kill others in order to dominate them. That is not a characteristic of youth generally.

    Youthful people seem to be the same around the world, except in two instances. Those are where the cultures are primitive such as what is found in some isolated jungle, and secondly, in certain closed societies in which the minds of the people are closed.

    Therefore, this “problem” will not be won with guns. The root of the problem will have to be dug out by a change of thought. If started now and if everyone could be educated I estimate it would take a minimum of ten years to overcome under ideal circumstances.

    But education is not the only thing. Some people are just bad, evil, mean. Some people like to make people suffer. It’s part of what makes them them. These people will continue to exist as long as there is time. Islam is a heathen religion that was invented to provide an avenue for evil and mean people to live out their desires. Those desires include walking in darkness however that manifests itself including, rejecting good passively, or rejecting it violently.

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis