a Syrian A fighter sent to fight with Azerbaijani forces in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region detailed the extent of foreign intervention in the new conflict with Armenia that, after six days of clashes, took a regional dimension.
The Deploying 1,000 Syrian fighters working for a private Turkish security companyAs well as Ankara’s explicit support for Azerbaijan in the worst fighting between the two neighbors since 1994, confirms this Turkey Rise as a regional power – and threatens to spoil the fragile status quo in the Caucasus, long seen as Russia’s domain.
On Friday, fresh fighting showed no signs of abating, as Armenia accused Azerbaijan Bombing of civilian infrastructure in Stepanakert, the main city in Nagorno Karabakh, as well as targeting artillery shelling of a bus carrying Russian and Armenian journalists.
Ankara now faces Moscow in three different theaters: The two countries support opposite parties in Syria, Libya And now the Nagorno-Karabakh.
Turkey has long-standing cultural and economic ties with Azerbaijan. Russia It has a military alliance with Armenia, but it also maintains ties with the ruling elite in Baku and sells weapons to both sides.
The new fighting and the presence of hostile Syrian forces near its borders will also worry Iran.
Several men in Idlib governorate, the last stronghold of the Syrian opposition He told the Guardian Over the past month, military commanders and mediators who claim to represent Turkish security companies have offered them work guarding observation points and oil and gas facilities in Azerbaijan under contracts of three or six months.
They were offered around 10,000 Turkish liras (£ 1,000) a month – a huge sum of money for Syrians trapped in a decade of war and poverty.
Mustafa Khaled, who requested that his real name not be used because he is not authorized to speak to the media, confirmed previous reports, and told the Guardian newspaper that he registered on September 18 and is now stationed at a point on his line of communication that has been subjected to continuous artillery shelling since last Sunday.
The 23-year-old from Idlib said that he traveled as part of the 1,000-strong Syrian battalion of the Turkish-backed Sultan Murad, Suleiman Shah and Hamzah divisions that left the Kilis border dialogue with Turkey. Turkey For a military base in Gaziantep on September 23.
The next day, they flew to Istanbul and then to Azerbaijan via Turkish military cargo planes. Data from Flight Radar, which tracks aircraft movements, as well as photos and geolocation coordinates sent to Guardian, confirm his account.
The Syrians who were sent to Nagorno Karabakh appear to wear the blue uniform which is commonplace for Azerbaijani border guards.
“I was hesitant to come here at first because I had no idea about this country and did not speak the language. I knew there were skirmishes between the two countries, but I didn’t know I was coming to war. I thought it was just a guard job,” Khaled said.
“I came here to make money and have a better life in Syria where the living conditions are miserable. I consider this a job, nothing else.”
Both Turkey and Azerbaijan denied the presence of Syrians in Nagorno-Karabakh. They accused Armenia of deploying Syrian and Iraqi Kurdish fighters to the region, but they did not provide evidence.
On Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron – who was already at odds with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on many regional issues – said that intelligence reports had proven that 300 fighters from “jihadist groups” in Syria had passed through Turkey on their way to Azerbaijan say “He crossed a red line,” and demands an explanation.
A model for the Syrian deployment was set in Nagorno Karabakh last December, when the Guardian first reported that Ankara was Facilitating the movement of Syrian mercenaries to Libya.
Between 10,000 and 16,000 Syrians from rebel groups under the umbrella of the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army have rotated in brief deployments to desert battlefields in the North African country this year – including Khaled, who worked there for four months as part of the rank of guard Personal for the Syrian leader.
Human rights groups accused some factions of the National Army of kidnapping and raping women, and other war crimes such as pillaging, in previous Turkish-backed attacks against Kurdish groups in Syria.
The Turkish intervention in Libya reversed the course of the war in favor of the Ankara-backed Government of National Accord at the expense of the dissident General Khalifa Haftar, backed by Moscow.
The interesting thing about the Turkish-Russian relationship is that despite the fact that the two countries have distinct differences on many issues, they are usually good at finding at least some common ground. “With each additional challenge, it becomes more difficult,” said Senan Ulgen, president of EDAM, an Istanbul-based think tank.
Moscow has called for de-escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh so far … saying there will be a red line for them somewhere. If this new incident escalates, it will upset a fragile balance. “