Russia Voices Deep Concern About Foreign Mercenaries in Azerbaijan

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On Wednesday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it was “deeply concerned” by reports that fighters from Syria and Libya were participating in the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

“Fighters of illegal armed groups including from Syria and Libya are being deployed to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, in order to directly take part in fighting,” the MoFA said. It added, “We are deeply concerned by these processes which not only escalate tensions in the conflict zone further but create long-lasting threats to security for all countries in the region.”

Armenian and Azerbaijani forces are engaged in the heaviest fighting in years over Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian province that broke away from Azerbaijan in the 1990s, during the collapse of the Soviet Union. Armenia has accused Azerbaijan’s ally Turkey of sending “mercenaries” to the conflict zone.

Notably, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) stated on Sunday that a group of Syrian mercenaries had landed in Azerbaijan, from Turkey. It added that the Syrian militants arrived in Turkey a few days earlier from Afrin, which is located in the countryside north-west of Aleppo. The Observatory pointed out that reliable sources have confirmed another group is being prepared to be sent to Azerbaijan. It claimed these developments come as part of Turkey’s policy of turning Syrian fighters into mercenaries.