Russia deploys armed ‘peacekeepers’ from Ingushetia in Syria

14 February 2017

Russia has deployed a military battalion from Ingushetia to Syria, according to the press office of the republic’s president Yunus-Bek Yevkurov’s. According to the president, the Ingush battalion will perform a ‘peacekeeping mission’.

Ingush soldiers have served in Syria before. This time, according to the Ingush president, they will be engaged in ‘ensuring the security of the Russian air forces and the Centre for Reconciliation between the warring parties in Syria’.

The Ingush authorities did not report on the exact size of the deployment. However, given that Russian army battalions are typically composed of 400–800 soldiers; many observers have expressed scepticism that one of the smallest republics in the Russian Federation would be capable of fielding such a high number of soldiers.

Ingushetia also announced that humanitarian aid will be collected for Syrians affected by the hostilities, as, according to the president they have experience in helping those in need. The authorities urged government institutions and ordinary citizens to bring clothes and food to specially organised reception points. A specially created commission will coordinate the operation.

‘Aid, collected by the residents of our republic has been sent several times to southeast Ukraine, Crimea, and to Khakassia, where people suffered from wildfires. Regardless of some difficulties, we find ways to collect humanitarian aid. We know like no others how important it is to give support in difficult times’, Yevkurov said.

While Ingushetia is sending troops to Syria to fight on the side of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the authorities are also also making efforts to compel Ingush fighting for the Islamic State to return home. A meeting was recently held in the republic’s capital of Magas between the authorities and relatives of militants. The authorities asked the families to persuade their children to return home, insisting that they would receive a fair trial in the Russian courts.