Russia's Prosecutor General Yury Chaika has announced that 3,500 Russians have joined terrorist groups in the Middle East, the TASS news agency reported Wednesday.
“Many have received special training there. Now, under the threat of destruction and for other reasons, hundreds of militants are returning home,” Chaika said, TASS reported.
More than 1,000 criminal cases have been opened against Russians involved in terrorist organizations between 2013-2015, he said.
In December 2015, international strategic consultancy agency the Soufan Group reported that roughly 2,400 Russians were fighting alongside the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria and Iraq.
The Soufan Group's research shows that the number of Russian fighters has tripled over the past 18 months, the RBC news website reported.
The Islamic State is a terrorist organization banned in Russia.