A new video shared on the Internet shows the photographs of 19 men identified as ethnic Tajiks who are claimed to have died fighting alongside the militant group Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
The five-minute video, titled Martyrs Inshallah Tajik Brothers of the Caliphate, in Tajik Persian, was first shared on YouTube on February 19, according to RFE/RL's Tajik Service, Radio Ozodi. Since then, the video has been uploaded and re-shared on other YouTube accounts.
The video shows a series of still photographs of militants who were purportedly killed in battle in Syria or Iraq, with the name of each dead militant displayed prominently. A Tajik Persian nashid, or hymn, is used as a soundtrack to the video.
The 19 militants shown in the video are identified only by their noms de guerre, nicknames the militants chose in place of their real names when they joined IS. They are named as: Abdullokh, Zayd, Mukhammad, Kori Abu Abdurakhmon, Anas Abdullakh, Abduvoris, Abu Hafs, Abu Aisha, Imron, Islom, Abu Hureira Forsi, Akoi Bobokhon, Abu Yusuf, Abu Hureira, Ali, Abu Sufiyon, Abu Boro, Said, and Sa'ad. The "director" of the video is listed as Abu Talha.
None of the militants shown in the video has been identified by Radio Ozodi. It is also not possible to independently verify when the militants shown in the video were killed.
However, the video looks authentic and is typical of IS "martyr videos" produced by Russian-speaking and militants and those from elsewhere in the former Soviet Union. Such videos are produced to glorify the jamaat's "martyrs" and are "unofficial" in the sense that they are not made by the IS's media wing but are rather curated by a member of the same jamaat (fighting group) of which the killed militants were members.
Such "martyr videos" usually feature militants who were killed over a period of several months rather than all in the same battle. It is likely, therefore, that the Tajik militants shown in this video were not all killed very recently, but over the past several months.
It is not known how many Tajik nationals are fighting in Syria and Iraq. Official figures, according to Radio Ozodi, put the number at 300. According to Edward Lemon, who tracks Tajik fighters in Syria, there is online evidence of just 67 fighters, though there are likely to be more unreported Tajiks in Syria and Iraq.
-- Joanna Paraszczuk