Syrian 'mercenaries' sentenced to life by Armenia over Karabakh war

Syrian 'mercenaries' sentenced to life by Armenia over Karabakh war
Armenia accused Turkey of sending Syrian mercenaries to fight alongside Azerbaijani forces, a claim denied by Ankara.
2 min read
The two Syrians admitted acting as mercenaries for Azerbaijan [Getty]
Two Syrians captured by Armenia during last year's war over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh were on Tuesday sentenced to life for fighting alongside Azerbaijan's army in the conflict, Armenian prosecutors said.

Clashes broke out late September between the ex-Soviet rivals over the ethnic Armenian enclave that for decades was controlled by Armenia-backed separatists. 

Turkey supported its ally Azerbaijan in the fighting and was widely accused of dispatching mercenaries from Syria to bolster Baku's army. Turkey has repeatedly denied the charges.

The two Syrian nationals, who were accused of acting as mercenaries for Azerbaijan, were sentenced to life in jail by a court in Armenia's southern Syunik region, a spokeswoman of Armenia's prosecutor general's office, Arevik Khachatryan, told AFP.

She added that the two men admitted their guilt.

The defendants were found guilty on several criminal charges, including terrorism and violations of international humanitarian law. 

In an earlier statement, Armenia's judicial system said the two men received "financial compensation" in exchange for taking part in the "aggressive war" that according to Armenia was started by Azerbaijan.

"Their actions were directed at destroying civilians" who were not involved in military action and "inflicting grave bodily harm", the statement said.

It added that more than 30 identified mercenaries are accused of taking part in the conflict and are wanted by Armenian justice. 

Armenia and Azerbaijan ended the conflict after six weeks of fighting with a Russian-brokered ceasefire in November. 

Under the agreement, Azerbaijan regained swathes of territory that had been controlled by separatists since the 1990s.

Both sides have accused each of war crimes during the conflict that left more than 6,000 people dead and displaced many more.

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