Infamous Chechen commander spotted in Ukraine after leaving Syria
Abdul Hakim al-Shishani previously fought in the 1990s Chechen war against Russian forces and later battled alongside jihadist fighters against the Moscow-backed Syrian regime.
He was pictured in Ukraine’s eastern city Bakhmut on Tuesday, allegedly taking up arms with local Ukrainian forces.
Shishani, who commands the Chechen-Islamist group Ajnad al-Kavkaz, left Idlib for Ukraine after a "crackdown led by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and to seek revenge against Russia," reported Atlas News.
"Russia is fighting in Syria through planes, but in Ukraine, we can confront the Russian army [on the ground]. Every enemy of Russia is a friend of ours,” the fighter told reporters, according to Atlas News.
Al-Shishani was involved in the fight to take Idlib from the regime. He has not been a member of Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State group but has fought alongside jihadist fighters, reported France 24.
Ajnad al-Kavkaz is an autonomous group that became the largest of the Muslim factions from the former Soviet Union fight in Syria.
HTS, a militant group operating in Syria, has recently cracked down on the Chechen fighters, arresting leaders and forcing members to flee.
Both Ukraine and Russia have poured resources and troops into Bakhmut, a key battleground of control in the war-torn Donbas region.