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Chechen Troops Ready To Fight In Syria, Kadyrov Says

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov

The head of Russia's Chechnya region, Ramzan Kadyrov, asserts that troops based there would be happy to fight what he called "scum" in Syria if President Vladimir Putin wishes.

Kadyrov was reacting to Russian media reports claiming that two battalions of military police from Chechnya are preparing to leave for Syria to protect the Russian air base in the war-ravaged Middle Eastern country.

Kadyrov did not say whether the reports were accurate, but posted on Instagram that the troops stationed in Chechnya would be happy to deploy to Syria. He added that he would eagerly join the fight personally against "international terrorism."

"I would be happy and proud to immediately go to Syria to fight the scum" on Putin's orders, Kadyrov said. "The enemy must be destroyed in his den before his tentacles reach your land."

Russia has waged an air campaign in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since September 2015, helping his forces steadily gain ground across the country, most recently in Aleppo, which was Syria's most populous city before the conflict began.

Kadyrov, who critics say routinely abuses human rights with impunity in mostly Muslim Chechnya, has repeatedly described himself and his troops as "Putin's foot soldiers."

Earlier this year, he told Russian state television that he had sent Chechens to infiltrate the Islamic State group in Syria and gather intelligence.

Based on reporting by AP and Interfax