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Some 1,500 people of North Caucasian descent fight in Syria, Iraq — Russian official

March 26, 2015, 18:37 UTC+3 ¶ PYATIGORSK
Spread of the Islamic State (IS) in the North Caucasus is a very serious threat
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PYATIGORSK, March 26. /TASS/. About 1,500 people of North Caucasian descent fight on the side of militants in Syria and Iraq, Russian president’s plenipotentiary envoy to the North Caucasian Federal District Sergey Melikov said in Pyatigorsk on Thursday.

He said at a meeting with editors of the regional media outlets that the return of mercenaries to the region is being blocked, but "the spread of the Islamic State (IS) in the North Caucasus is a very serious threat." The presidential envoy also said that at least five militants that were killed in Dagestan in 2014, "have been identified as participants in combat actions in Syria."

"Actions of the so-called Islamic State have nothing in common with Islam and are condemned by the whole Muslim community. Today they are already making their claims to a large territory - from Portugal to the Volga area, China, also to North Africa and a number of island states. It poses a major threat to the whole world," Melikov said.

Islamic State is a radical Islamist group, which has seized large swathes of territory in eastern Syria and northern and western Iraq. Its brutal tactics - including mass killings and abductions of members of religious and ethnic minorities, as well as the beheading of soldiers and journalists - have caused fear and outrage around the world and prompted the U.S. military intervention.

In the view of the Russian presidential envoy, the ideas of the Caucasus Emirate that had previously been active in the region, may promote the spread of the militants’ ideology in the North Caucasus.

He said the Republic of Dagestan was the most vulnerable to this threat as it has many remote isolated settlements. "We presume that agents [of the Islamic State terrorist group] may be working in the republic’s [religious] educational establishments, in madrasah," Melikov said.

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