The Radio Way, a community radio station based in Georgia’s north-western Pankisi gorge, reported today that a Georgian citizen Giorgi Margoshvili (otherwise known as Pheizula Kushtanashvili and Salahuddin Shishani) was killed in Syria.
39-year-old Margoshvili, who hailed from village Duisi in Pankisi gorge, had reportedly participated in the Lopota gorge clash in late August 2012, when a group of militants fought against the Georgian security forces.
According to the Long War Journal of the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), Margoshvili (Salahuddin Shishani) “has been killed in the northern Hama countryside.” The area has lately seen intense fighting between the Syrian government forces and the rebels.
The Long War Journal also wrote that Margoshvili led the Jaysh Usrah, a small group comprised of North Caucasian and Syrians militants.
“Prior to forming this group, he was the leader of the Caucasus Emirate’s branch in Syria. The branch was formed in July 2015 by Shishani and his former deputy Abdul Karim Krymsky after being deposed from Jaish al Muhajireen wal Ansar (the Army of the Emigrants and Helpers, or JMA). The Caucasus Emirate in Syria is thought to still exist, albeit small and fractured, after the departure of Salahuddin,” reads the FDD report.
At least 26 natives of Pankisi gorge have died fighting in Syria since 2012.
According to the Georgian State Security Service, as of March 2016, there were “up to 50 Georgian citizens” fighting for extremist groups in Syria and Iraq.