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Caucasus Emirate in Syria fighting in Aleppo

The Caucasus Emirate in Syria, the official Syrian branch of the al Qaeda-linked Caucasus Emirate, has released a new short video through its Akhbar Sham propaganda wing showing its fighters taking part in recent battles within Aleppo.

The video, which is dated May 3, details heavy fighting between the North Caucasian militants and regime troops within Syria's largest city. The jihadists are shown using heavy and light machine guns, as well as snipers. A commercial drone was also used to document the battles, similar to what other jihadist groups are using in northern Syria. Three Caucasus Emirate fighters, including two wearing "Imarat Kavkaz" (Caucasus Emirate in Chechen) t-shirts, also make a short speech to the camera.

This is not the first time the Caucasus Emirate in Syria has documented its role in the Aleppo fighting. In March, it released a video showing a nighttime operation against Kurdish forces in the Aleppo neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsud. A second video was recorded shortly before the battles at Al Eis in the southern Aleppo countryside. A fighter in the group, presumably a native Syrian, gives a short Arabic-language address in which he states that the Caucasus Emirate in Syria and two other al Qaeda groups, Jund al Aqsa, and the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda's official branch, will fight together to "liberate the Aleppo countryside from Assad, Iran, and Satan's dogs [referring to Iranian-backed Iraqi militias]." (See Threat Matrix report, Caucasus Emirate in Syria highlights role in Aleppo fighting.)

The Caucasus Emirate in Syria was formed when the former emir of Jaish al Muhajireen wal Ansar (Army of Emigrants and Helpers), Salahuddin Shishani, was removed from his post along with his deputy, Abdul Karim Krymsky, last summer. A small group of Chechen and other North Caucasian fighters followed suit and left with Shishani. The group then released a video announcing its formation and its bayah (allegiance) to the Caucasus Emirate and its emir at the time, Abu Usman Gimrinsky . However, From Chechnya to Syria has reported that Shishani was also deposed of his leadership position of the Caucasus Emirate in Syria, and now leads another small Chechen-led group.

[Source: By Caleb Weiss, Threat Matrix, The Long War Journal, NJ, 17May16]

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