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Syrian Circassians Flocking To Russian Caucasus Republic

Officials in the Russian republic of Kabardino-Balkaria say some 2,000 Syrians have arrived in the North Caucasian territory and are seeking asylum.

A spokesman for Kabardino-Balkaria leader Yury Kokov said on September 10 that most of the refugees who arrived in the republic were "Syrian Circassians whose ancestors used to live in the Caucasus."

The comments came the same day that Maksim Shevchenko, a member of the Russian president's Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, said that Russia could accept some 5,000-10,000 Circassian refugees.

Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Circassians, Ubykhs, Abkhaz, and Abaza were forced from their lands in the North Caucasus by Russian forces between 1863-1867 after the Russo-Circassian War, with many of them settling in what is now Syria.

Before the start of the Syrian civil war there were an estimated 80,000 ethnic Circassians living in Syria.

Kokov said in a statement that "we have to take into account that militants from international terrorist organizations" could "infiltrate the country disguised as refugees."

He added that the republic needed "a set of special" measures to prevent such people from coming to Kabardino-Balkaria.

Based on reporting by Interfax and

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