A message posted online claims that Islamist militants in four regions of Russia's Caucasus have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group.
The voice recording posted on YouTube on June 21 said militants in Daghestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Kabardino-Balkaria regions had all sworn fealty to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
"Obeying the order of Allah...we are declaring our allegiance to Caliph Ibrahim ben Awwad ben Ibrahim al-Badri al-Qureishi al-Husseini for obedience and subordination," the recording in both Arabic and Russian says, referring to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
A spokesman for the IS group, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, on June 24 welcomed the news in a separate recording and said Baghdadi "accepted" their allegiance.
Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Security Council Secretary Yevgeny Lukyanov said on June 24 that "up to 2,000" Russians, many of them from the Caucasus, have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside the IS group.
Their return, usually through Turkey where they "pretend to be tourists who lost their documents," will "pose a problem," Lukyanov was quoted as saying by Interfax.
Based on reporting by AFP and Interfax