MOSCOW, October 22. /TASS/. More than 1,500 citizens from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) are fighting in Syria as mercenaries, the press service of the CIS Antiterrorism Center said on Wednesday.
The number of recruits — people coming from countries of the Central Asian region and Russian Federation that are involved in the Syrian conflict — is still gradually increasing, the center quotes a report its head Andrey Novikov delivered at the Second Meeting of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Center. Novikov said that the CIS Antiterrorism Center has information that at least 1,500 citizens of the Commonwealth member countries are fighting today within international terrorist organizations in Syria.
According to Novikov, the CIS Antiterrorism Center has observed Commonwealth citizens’ departure to study in various education centers from CIS countries under the pretext of getting religious education and from European countries where they live as refugees or children of refugees of the 1990s who have already received citizenship of the EU countries.
Novikov said the return of militants who received combat experience in the “hot spots” to their permanent residence places in the Commonwealth states, their further involvement in subversive activity against the constitutional foundations of the Commonwealth countries has become a serious problem for the CIS member states.
He also said CIS competent agencies have been taking the necessary counteraction measures — identifying and registering citizens who are involved in terrorist activity within bandit groups of international terrorist organizations outside the Commonwealth states — in Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other “hot spots.” They investigate cases under the Criminal Code articles that provide for punishment for mercenary activity, participation in foreign armed conflicts, undergoing extremist and terrorist training and recruitment.
Novikov said that the Specialized Databank of the CIS Antiterrorism Center is already gathering information, including secret data on the mercenaries and persons involved in terrorist activity outside the CIS states, on organizations supporting mercenary activities on a broad scale, on the publishers and literature about the training of mercenaries, terrorists and extremists. He said the specialized structures of the United Nations, Interpol, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), CIS and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should develop information exchange on the persons and organisations involved in mercenary activities.