Syrian Rebels

'Russian-Speaking’ Fighters In Syria, Iraq And At Home: Consequences And Context

November 20, 2017
Cerwyn Moore and Mark Youngman
This report was originally published by the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats.

Despite its early and spectacular successes in Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State (IS) has, over the last year, suffered repeated setbacks that have weakened its ability to control captured territory and implement its state-building agenda. A key aspect of IS’s strategy has been the mobilisation of supporters across Russia and the former Soviet Union. Other rebel groups in Syria have also attracted support from these areas, illustrating the need for a proper understanding of the Russian-speaking militant milieu, beyond IS’s territorial claims.

The report shows that:

  • Islamic State has established a patchy toehold in Russia, in particular by linking up with a much-weakened domestic insurgency
  • This has lead to a wave of incidents, including an attack in Derbent, Dagestan in December 2015, and an attack in December 2016 in Grozny, Chechnya.
  • Whilst other incidents have been attributed to IS, many of these have been rudimentary attacks
  • The terrorist threat facing Russia is not reducible to IS.

Click here to read the full report.


Cerwyn Moore

Cerwyn Moore is a CREST-funded researcher and a senior lecturer in International Relations, in the Department of Political Science and International Studies University of Birmingham.


Mark Youngman

Mark Youngman is an ESRC-funded doctoral student.

Photo by Qasioun News Agency shared under a CC BY 3.0 license.