How was Abdul Rahman al-Uzbeki killed in Syria?
Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport, Istanbul’s Reina, St. Petersburg’s metro and Stockholm… These are some of the bloody attacks carried out by terrorists of Kyrgyz, Uzbek and Tajik origin.
From the day they broke away from the Soviet Union, these countries have become the working field of terror organizations, and today they constitute an important human resource for terror structures in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.
The St. Petersburg attack happened on April 3 and the Stockholm attack on April 7. We learned on April 21 that the U.S. army killed one of the Asian leaders of ISIL, Abdul Rahman al-Uzbeki, in a land operation on April 6.
Abdulgadir Masharipov attacked the Istanbul night club Reina on New Year’s and massacred 39 people. During the search for Masharipov, who was caught on Jan. 17, several critical names were reached. The information Turkish intelligence collected was very valuable also for American intelligence. Russian intelligence was also on the job after the St. Petersburg attack.
One of the names caught in connection with the Reina attack held a very important position in the organization’s hierarchy. In the interrogation of these people and in the technical analysis of the devices seized, very important connections were revealed.
All of these developments turned eyes to ISIL’s new stronghold, Deir ez-Zor.
After more than two months of pursuit, the traffic of money, ammunition and human was clear to a great extent. Finally, Abdul Rahman al-Uzbeki was reached. He was spotted to the south of Mayadin near Deir ez-Zor. He was not only coordinating Central Asian members of ISIL but also managing financial resources in Iraq and Syria.
After an operation that lasted about half an hour, al-Uzbeki and other ISIL members around him were killed.
In Syria alone, there are 11 camps where Transcaucasus and Central Asian members live and receive military training. Four of these camps belong to Uzbeks. It has been reported that there are about 6,000 Uzbek terrorists. Some of these groups are not allied with ISIL but with al-Qaeda and al-Nusra. The Uzbek group Katibat al-Guraba, however, is with ISIL.
Foreign terrorist fighters in Syria are separated into two groups according to the language they speak; the Arabic speakers and the Russian speakers. The Russian speakers come from Central Asia and the Caucasus. Recently, the Russian speakers have reported to have become more effective and powerful in ISIL.
It must be because of this that lately, in the air attacks in Syria by both Russia and the international coalition, regions where Uzbeks, Kyrgyz, Tajiks and Uighurs are present are being targeted. There have been more than 10 operations since January 2017.
In the past four months, it seems that the Central Asian group within ISIL has received a big blow. Following these recent developments, it has been noticed that the critical units in Raqqa have been withdrawn to the south. Meanwhile, the Russian-supported al-Assad regime and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) have activated the highway between Aleppo and al-Hasakah which is seen as a strategic step for the Raqqa operation.
Turkey gained an important advantage with the Euphrates Shield, but is now stuck in stasis. However, it could increase military and civilian traffic with the United States at this stage and take critical steps to prevent the changing picture from conflicting with its interests. It would be good to closely watch it.