On Tuesday, an Armenian diplomat confirmed that nearly 4,000 jihadists, affiliated with the Al-Nusra Front and the Sultan Murad Brigade, had arrived in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. He claimed they had arrived from Libya and Syria, to fight alongside Azerbaijani forces.
In a statement, the former Armenian ambassador to Italy, Sargis Ghazarian, called for an end to the Turkish-Azerbaijani aggression in Nagorno-Karabakh. He noted that “The deployment of those jihadists is dangerous, and even more so if we take into account the temporary moratorium on war activities that the UN Secretary-General called for, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The clashes over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh are the heaviest since 2016, with reports of dozens killed and hundreds wounded.
In recent years, Turkey has projected its power abroad, with incursions into neighbouring Syria and Iraq, and its military support for the Tripoli-based GNA in Libya. Ankara has repeatedly said it is ready to provide support to Azerbaijan, a country with which it has strong historical and cultural ties, and where it runs joint energy projects. Turkey has already used Syrian fighters in Libya earlier this year. They supported the GNA in its fight against the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) claimed that thousands of Syrian fighters have been deployed to Azerbaijan. “These Syrian fighters come from two ethnic Turkmen armed groups, including the Sultan Murad Division, and the Suleyman Shah Brigade”, according to Rami Abdel Rahman, Director of the Observatory. These two rebel groups have been important actors in the Turkish-controlled areas of northern Syria.