Various Sources Confirm That Turkey Is Sending Syrian Militants To Azerbaijan

Karine Ghazaryan

Journalist, semiotician-to-be

For several weeks now, information has been circulating on the Internet and in the media that Turkey is transferring fighters to Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan categorically denied the information.

On September 28, Armenia accused Turkey of transferring foreign mercenaries to Azerbaijan. RA Ambassador to Russia Vardan Toghanyan said that the mercenaries had been moved from northern Syria.

Media.am studied the spread information and found out that for several months now various international sources have been reporting information about the militants.

Back in summer, sources had written about the transfer of militants from Turkey to Azerbaijan

? Information that Turkey is transferring militants from Syria to Azerbaijan had been spread in the summer, after the battles in July. The Arab press had written that militant checkpoints had been set up in the northern Syrian cities of Afrin and Rajo. Afrin is under Turkish control. Both the governments of Turkey and Azerbaijan had denied the news.

? On September 1, the same information had been spread by the Russian Nezavisimaya Gazeta, mentioning the names of the armed groups: “Sultan Murad” and “Hamzat.” Azerbaijan had denied it again. 

? On September 21, American journalist Lindsey Snell posted a recording on Twitter, where, according to Snell, the Syrian militant said that they will be transferred to Azerbaijan on September 27-30. Snell added that she had heard from many sources that there were already militants from Syria in Azerbaijan.

Ադրբեջանի համար վարձկաններ

A photo published by American journalist Lindsey Snell, which allegedly shows members of the “Hamza” group going to Baku

? On September 24, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) wrote that Turkey was transferring about 300 mercenaries from the Afrin region. According to SOHR, the militants are mainly from “Sultan Murad” and “Al-Amshat” groups. Both groups fought in the Syrian civil war and continue to receive support from Turkey.

The SOHR wrote that the fighters themselves think that they are being transferred to Azerbaijan “to protect the state border” and that they should be paid $1,500-2,000. At the time of publication, the website did not manage to find out whether the mercenaries were really being transferred to Azerbaijan or another country.

? On September 27, along with the new publications of the SOHR, the Human Rights Organization, already based in Afrin, released the names of some armed groups from Syria, the number of their victims, and the names of several individual militants.

Another platform covering the events in Afrin wrote that Turkey has opened two reception points for volunteers to go to Azerbaijan. The points were located in the area of the former “Amir Jobar” and “Azhar Afrin” schools.

On September 28, Armenia formally accused Turkey of transferring “foreign terrorists” to Azerbaijan

The Armenian authorities were initially cautious about this news, announcing that they were checking the information.

However, already on the morning of September 28, the RA Ministry of Foreign Affairs officially accused Turkey of transferring “foreign terrorists” to Azerbaijan. Moreover, Armenian Ambassador to Russia Vardan Toghanyan said that 4,000 militants had been transferred to Azerbaijan from northern Syria.

Azerbaijan denied the information again.

Several militants immediately confirmed that they were being sent to Azerbaijan

On the evening of the same day, the authoritative Reuters agency published information about the militants already fighting in Azerbaijan.

Reuters quoted two militants who confirmed that they were being sent to Azerbaijan.

Both militants wanted to remain anonymous. Although Reuters notes that it has not been able to verify the identities of the militants, it quotes one of them as saying that his difficult financial situation forced him to agree to go to Azerbaijan. Both militants said they would be paid $1,500 a month.

Several other militants said that about 700 to 1000 people were taken to Azerbaijan by Turkey.

This is not the first time that Turkey has used Syrian mercenaries in military operations in third countries. For example, the militants were sent to Libya this year.

The militants belong to various groups, which are concentrated under the name of the Syrian National Army (SNA). The SNA is receiving support from Turkey and is fighting against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

It is interesting that Azerbaijan, in its turn, accused Armenia of bringing mercenaries from Syria to Artsakh. This statement repeats the accusations against Ankara and Baku like a mirror.

The Armenian expert, citing sources, confirms the information from the press

Arabologist Sargis Grigoryan told Media.am about the information provided by his sources that about a month ago Turkey started recruiting militants from Afrin and Idlib. At first, they had to move to Turkey, from there to several directions, including Libya, Qatar, and Azerbaijan.

According to Grigoryan’s sources, the militants have already been transferred to Azerbaijan this week. The source keeps in touch with their families in Syria. Those going to Azerbaijan had promised to make contact as soon as they arrived, but they have not made contact yet.

According to the Arabologist, the militants are not Islamists or jihadists, religion is not a priority for them. “Those who go to Azerbaijan can be Turkomans living in the north of Syria, a people of Turkish origin who have a pro-Turkish position and are fighting in different groups by Turkey. This was done so that there would be no Sunni-Shiite conflict (the population of Azerbaijan is Shiite, Turkey is Sunni), the Turkish interest will be used for the fighters and ideological perceptions will not hinder the fight,” said Sargis Grigoryan.

Karine Ghazaryan

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