Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov told Kremlin propaganda outlet LifeNews his troops are ready to help Russian troops in Syria against radical Islamic groups.
“I’m convinced that not only airborne should be used there, but also infantry, because the faster we finish off ISIS, the more peacefully we’ll live across the territory of global community,” he said. “We Chechens as yet, unfortunately, have no opportunity to participate in the fight against these evil spirits.”
Russia began airstrikes against alleged enemies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday with new attacks Thursday morning. At first they claimed their main target was the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), but admitted they will target anyone who is a threat to their ally.
“These organisations (on the target list) are well-known and the targets are chosen in coordination with the armed forces of Syria,” declared Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman.
The international community condemned Russia for the airstrikes since Putin and President Barack Obama spoke about Syria at the UN. From CNN:
A senior U.S. defense official told CNN the Pentagon was “taken aback” by Russia’s actions. “Our presidents just talked about setting up de-confliction talks and now they just go ahead and do this? They cannot be trusted.”
A second U.S. official said: “This is not how military relations are conducted, by banging on the door of our embassy and reading a note.”
But Kadyrov, one of Putin’s most loyal allies, insists the Russians have not violated any laws.
“I’m sure that it will contribute to ensuring safety in [the] entire world,” he said.
In July, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov announced that over 2,200 Russians are currently fighting with ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
“The figures start getting really alarming,” he stated, adding:
At the time being, around 2,200 people from Russia are engaged in the fighting in Syria and Iraq. Among them, about 500 came from Europe, where they had earlier obtained citizenship, residence permit or refugee status. We are thoroughly analyzing belligerent statements of IS leaders on transition of the “jihad” to Northern Caucasus and in Central Asia.
In mid-June, the Interior Ministry reported over 400 Chechens have joined terrorist groups, mainly ISIS, since the Syrian Civil War broke out.
“A total of 405 people, according to our data, have left Chechnya to join the fighting in Syria on the side of the Islamic State since the beginning of the war in that region,” said the spokesman. “Among those, 104 have been killed and 44 came back, while the fate of the rest is unknown.”
Outside of the Middle East, Russia is the largest contributor of jihadists to ISIS. While leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi rarely appears in public, the terrorist group has used military leader Omar al-Shishani, a Chechen, in its propaganda often. ISIS featured him in a video last August from one of its children training centers, with children displaying their military skills for al-Shishani.
Chechens in Syria have threatened President Vladimir Putin for supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and in a video released last September, vowed to liberate Chechnya and Russia’s North Caucasus.
“We will, with the consent of Allah, free Chechnya and all of the Caucasus!” said the fighter. “The Islamic State is here and will stay here, and it will spread with the grace of Allah! Your throne has already been shaken. It is under threat and will fall with our arrival. We’re already on our way with the grace of Allah!”