A new video shared on social media shows Russian-speaking Islamic State militants apparently taking part in clashes in the countryside around the Syrian town of Kobani.
The video was posted on YouTube on March 9 by the Aamaq News Agency, which posts videos from areas under the control of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
The video was also widely shared on social-media accounts run by Russian-speaking supporters of the Islamic State group, who said that the militants shown in the footage were from Central Asia and the North Caucasus.
The exact date that the footage was filmed is not clear. However, there have been clashes between Islamic State militants and Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militias in the countryside around Kobani in recent days. The U.S.-led coalition reported on March 8 that it had conducted an air strike near Kobani in the past 24 hours, destroying five fighting positions and hitting an Islamic State tactical unit.
U.S.-backed Kurdish militias routed the Islamic State group from Kobani in January. In early February, there were reports that Kurdish forces had recaptured more than one-third of the villages around Kobani that had been overrun by the militants.
Islamic State militants were fighting hard to retain control of villages to the west of Kobani. It is not clear exactly where the clashes shown in the video are taking place.
There has been ample previous video and social- media evidence showing that Russian-speaking Islamic State militants were involved in the battle for Kobani, including Katibat al-Aqsa (the Al-Aqsa Brigade), a predominantly Chechen group linked to the Islamic State's military commander in Syria, Umar al-Shishani. Militants from Katibat al-Aqsa were filmed inside the town in November, with militants vowing to save the Kurds from communism.
An ethnic Chechen militant apparently from Germany who calls himself Adam al-Almany and who is connected to Katibat al-Aqsa reported on the VKontakte social network on February 21 that Islamic State militants had captured two villages near Kobani, amid "intensive air and mortar fire from the infidels (U.S.-backed Kurdish militias)."
-- Joanna Paraszczuk