On Wednesday, the Guardian published a story that said at least three “Syrian opposition” fighters have been killed in Nagorno-Karabakh, where Armenia and Azerbaijan have engaged in heavy fighting since Sunday.
Multiple media outlets have cited sources in northern Syria that said a Turkish security company offered Syrian fighters around $1,000 a month to travel to Azerbaijan.
The Guardian spoke with the families of Syrian fighters who were reported to be killed in Nagorno-Karabakh. One man, Omar Abdo, is the cousin of a slain fighter named Muhammed Shaalan. Abdo said he was contacted by members of the Hamza Division on Tuesday who told him of his cousin’s death.
The Hamza Division is a Turkish-backed Syrian opposition group based in northwest Syria, a group Turkey has deployed to fight against Gen. Khalifa Haftar in Libya.
“He told us he was leaving for Azerbaijan on 20 September. We don’t know the circumstances of his death and we were told it’s hard to bring his corpse at the moment, but they will try,” Abdo said.
Sources said the recruitment effort began in northern Syria for Azerbaijan about a month ago, which could mean Turkey had foreknowledge of a battle breaking out in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Since the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh began, Turkey has voiced its support for Azerbaijan. Armenia has accused Turkey of intervening with fighter jets, but Ankara denies the charge.