19 Nov 2018 19:13

Over 40 extremists from Georgia killed in Syria, 15 continuing to fight - special service

TBILISI. Nov 19 (Interfax) - Fifty Georgian citizens are presumably continuing to fight in Syria these days, Irakly Chimakadze, the chief of the Georgian State Security Service's counterterrorist center, said in an interview.

"According to our information, 15 Georgian citizens are involved in the fighting in Syria today, and 43 have been killed [over the entire period of hostilities]," Chimakadze said in an interview with the Georgian newspaper Kviris Palitra, posted on its website on Monday.

Georgian special services have started working to identify its citizens staying in the conflict zone since 2012, after learning that some of them traveled to Syria to fight there, he said.

Owing to the toughening of the relevant laws in Georgia, almost no facts of Georgian citizens' traveling to Syria to join the fighting have been recorded in the past several years, he said.

Georgia has regularly exchanged information with its strategic partners, which enables it to curb transit movements of members of terrorist organizations in Georgia as much as possible, he said.

Georgian media have reported repeatedly that several dozens of Georgian citizens might be fighting in Syria for Islamic State (banned in Russia as a terrorist organization). Some reports this past summer said about 30 people coming from Georgia's Pankisi Gorge, including Tarkhan Batirashvili (Abu Omar al-Shishani), have been killed over the period of hostilities in Syria and Iraq. Western media described Batirashvili as Islamic State's 'minister of war' killed in 2016.