Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria confirms death of French-born fighter

The Turkistan Islamic Party’s French-born fighter who was reportedly killed in Syria. 

A social media account linked to the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) has confirmed that a second French national within the group’s ranks has been killed in Syria. Little is known about the fighter’s background. However, he appeared in a video released by the TIP last November.

The fighter’s alias was given as Ubeydullah from France. And he was referred to as a shahid, or martyr, on social media. Another al Qaeda group in Syria, Firqat al Ghuraba, reported that he was killed in July 2016 in Jabal Turkman, which is in Syria’s Latakia Province. Both the online confirmation by a TIP official and the Nov. 2016 video indicate that he was killed while fighting alongside the TIP in Latakia. Firqat al Ghuraba, which is led by a US-designated global terrorist, has fought alongside al Qaeda’s forces in Syria and long highlighted its loyalty to al Qaeda’s leaders.

This is the second time a French fighter is known to have been killed fighting with the group. The first one, identified as Reda Layachi from Hérouville-Saint-Clair near Caen, was killed in Idlib Province in late 2015.

The TIP is an al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group comprised mainly of Uighurs from China’s western Xinjiang Province. However, it has also highlighted non-Uighur members. Its former military leader in Syria, Abu Rida, was a native Syrian. Other Syrians and jihadists from Central Asia have also been referenced. It is now known that at least two French-born combatants have been killed fighting for the TIP in Syria as well. The death of Ubeydullah alongside the TIP demonstrates the close relationship the group maintains with al Qaeda.

Article has been updated with new information on the French fighter.

Caleb Weiss is an editor of FDD's Long War Journal and a senior analyst at the Bridgeway Foundation, where he focuses on the spread of the Islamic State in Central Africa.

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