Turkey 'sending Syrian fighters to Azerbaijan', as fighting with Armenia intensifies

Turkey 'sending Syrian fighters to Azerbaijan', as fighting with Armenia intensifies
Turkey has strongly denied claims it's sending Syrian fighters to Azerbaijan.
3 min read
29 September, 2020
Azerbaijan and Armenia have engaged in fierce clashes [Getty]
Turkey is sending Syrian fighters to support Azerbaijan amid a military stand-off with neighbour Armenia, according to several media reports.

Two former rebel fighters who are part of Turkish-backed groups operating in northern Syria told Reuters they were recently deployed to Azerbaijan amid a conflict over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region.

They were recruited by the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army in Afrin with the promise of $1,500 a month salaries to take part in guard duties in Azerbaijan, but not fight, they said.

"I didn't want to go, but I don't have any money. Life is very hard and poor," one fighter, who was once part of the Ahrar Al-Sham armed group, told the news agency.

Between 700 and 1,000 Syrian fighters have been sent to Azerbaijan over the past month, according to the news agency, with clashes between the two Caucasus nations threatening to spill into all-out war.

A source has also told The New Arab that Syrian fighters have been deployed to Azerbaijan and given similar figures.

Other outlets such as The Guardian also spoke to former Syrian rebels allegedly sent to the Caucusus region.

Turkey has been keen to stress its support for Azerbaijan in its tensions with Yerevan centering on the Armenian-controlled Nagorno-Karabakh territory, which lies within its borders and is claimed by Baku.

Ankara has rejected recent comments by an Armenian official that it had sent 4,000 Syrian rebels to support the Azeri government.

Azerbaijan has also strongly denied claims that it has Syrian fighters among its ranks, as fighting intensified on Tuesday with heavy weaponry used in exchanges.

Armenian claimed on Tuesday that a Turkish jet had downed one of its planes.

At the heart of the standoff between Yerevan and Baku is the contested Nagorny Karabakh region.

The Soviet authorities merged the predominantly ethnic Armenian territory with Azerbaijan in 1921.

After the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenian separatists seized it in a move supported by Yerevan.

An ensuing war left 30,000 dead and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes.

Despite a ceasefire mediated in 1994 by Russia, the United States and France, peace negotiations struggle to move forward and fighting erupts frequently.

The latest clashes on Sunday saw Azerbaijan and Armenian separatists accuse each other of igniting the fighting that left both sides with casualties, including civilians.

It followed a flare-up along the border in July which claimed the lives of 17 soldiers from both sides.

In April 2016, some 110 people were killed in the most serious fighting in years.

Agencies contributed to this story

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