TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgian police on Sunday carried out a special operation in Pankisi, a valley in the northeast of the country mostly inhabited by Kists, who are ethnic Chechens.
Omar Al-Shishani, or Tarkhan Batirashvili, one of the field commanders of ISIS, was born and raised in Pankisi. He left for Syria a few years ago to join the war. His father and relatives still live in Pankisi.
During the special operation, law enforcement bodies detained his cousin Merab Batirashvili and questioned his friend Jokola Achishvili. Also Gaioz Borchashvili and several other persons were detained.
About 100 special forces were at Borchashvili’s house for several hours, questioning family members.
According to the most recent information, the special operation aimed at detaining those who allegedly have helped Georgians go to Syria, also because of suspected ties to ISIS.
In recent months, several minors and young people have secretly left Pankisi and went to Syria, and it was later found out that they had joined one of the Islamist groups in the war there.
Despite a number of photos from the location and information from locals, the interior minister has not yet confirmed that a special operation was in fact carried out in the gorge. Vakhtang Gomelauri said he cannot comment right now, but that MIA will soon issue an official statement.
People of Pankisi object to the detentions and plan a rally against the detentions Monday.