Azerbaijan rejected a statement from Armenia that claimed Turkey had sent Syrian fighters to support Azeri forces after heavy clashes in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. On Sunday, fighting erupted between Azeri and Armenian forces in the disputed area and continued on Monday, leaving dozens dead.
Armenia’s ambassador to Russia claimed that Turkey sent about 4,000 fighters to Nagorno-Karabakh from northern Syria. An aid to Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev denied these rumors.
“Rumors of militants from Syria allegedly being redeployed to Azerbaijan is another provocation by the Armenian side and complete nonsense,” the aid said.
Media reports contradict Azerbaijan’s denial. Both Reuters and the Guardian published reports citing sources from northern Syria that said Turkey is preparing to deploy Syrian mercenaries to Azerbaijan. Turkey has already voiced its support for Azerbaijan, and Ankara has a history of sending Syrian mercenaries to other conflict zones, like Libya.
Reuters cited two unnamed “Syrian rebels” who said they were deploying to Azerbaijan in coordination with Turkey. Both fighters told Reuters that their Syrian commanders said they would earn around $1,500 a month for the deployment. One fighter said about 1,000 Syrians were expected to be sent to Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Guardian spoke with three men in northern Syria who said they signed up with a private Turkish security firm to work as border guards in Azerbaijan. Two of the men, who changed their names to remain anonymous, said they were offered three or six months contracts and would be paid about $800 to $1,200 a month.