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Caucasus braces for Syrian ethnic refugees

MAYKOP, Russia, May 13 (UPI) -- Officials in the Russian republic of Adygea said the first group of Circassians had arrived from strife-torn Syria for resettlement in their ancestral homeland.

The head of the committee on national affairs in Adygea said the 25 immigrants were going through the standard procedures for repatriates and would be settling into rented apartments while the issue of possible land acquisitions was under discussion.

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The possibility of a large influx of ethnic Circassians abandoning Syria for their ancestral homeland was a major concern in the Caucasus, said Russia's RIA Novosti news service.

"This is a serious, complex issue," Adygean Prime Minister Murat Kumpilov said recently. "The republic has experience receiving and placing repatriates, but now we need coordinated action by all government bodies in order to provide the maximum assistance to our compatriots from Syria."

The Circassians wound up in the Middle East after being rousted out of the Caucasus by the Russian tsar in the 19th Century.

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