Artsakh President Says 50% of Terrorists Have Been ‘Eliminated,’ as 230 New Mercenaries Arrive
There are around 2,000 mercenaries from the Middle East fighting alongside Azerbaijani force against Artsakh, said Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Tuesday, adding that Moscow has addressed the concern with Ankara, calling on “external players” to prevent the proliferation of mercenary participation.
In response to Lavrov, Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan said that that the Artsakh Armed Forces have “eliminated” 50 percent of the mercenaries. A rights watch group in Syria reported Tuesday that 230 more mercenaries have left Syria for Azerbaijan.
“We, of course, are concerned over the internationalization of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and the involvement of militants from the Middle East. We have repeatedly called on external players to use their capacities to prevent the transfer of mercenaries whose number in the conflict zone is already reaching 2,000 according to the existing data,” Lavrov said in an interview with the Kommersant newspaper.
“This topic was discussed specifically during an October 27 telephone conversation by Russian President Vladimir Putin with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as during the regular contacts with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan. We continue persistently pushing forward our position through various channels,” added Lavrov.
Russia will continue cooperating with Turkey and use its entire influence in the region to prevent a military solution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview to Komersant newspaper.
It was the Kommersant newspaper that reported last month about Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar personally controlling Azerbaijan’s attacks on Artsakh from September 28 to 30.
Lavrov said that Moscow and Ankara are close partners and are able to display a flexible and pragmatic approach and cooperate with each other in a strategic vision. He pointed to Syria and Libya as the “obvious examples of practical and substantive cooperation between Russian and Turkish diplomats, militaries and intelligence agencies.”
“The situation in the case of Nagorno Karabakh principally differs, and I’ve partially spoken about this in my answers to previous questions. I repeat, we have never hidden and we aren’t hiding that we are not in favor of a military solution to the crisis, we seek a speedy halt in combat operations,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov emphasized that both parties to the conflict, as well as their foreign allies should steadily adhere to the agreements on ceasefire, the creation of verification mechanisms and the re-launch of substantive negotiations by a concrete timetable.
“And while it wasn’t possible to achieve a stable ceasefire at first, we will continue using our entire influence in the region, we will work with our Turkish colleagues, in order to stop the further development of a military scenario, so that dialogue gets established between the sides, and so that we convince Baku and Yerevan to come to the negotiations table,” Lavrov said.
“Today Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov made an interesting announcement, noting that the number of the terrorists deployed in the region comes near 2000. I want to assure Mr. Lavrov that during this anti-terrorism campaign we were able to eliminate over half of those terrorists (they have been killed or injured), while in the near future more decisive measures will be taken to eliminate all those who have remained alive,” said Artsakh President Harutyunyan in a social media post on Tuesday.
“By the way, the Azerbaijani units send the terrorist groups from the front and control their movements with arms, firing at them in case of a retreat,” said Harutyunyan encouraging sharing the information about the mercenaries being used as human shields “since the relatives of the terrorists fighting against peaceful people of Artsakh must know the truth.’’
A new group of about 230 Syrian militants have been sent to Azerbaijan to participate in the ongoing war against Nagorno Karabakh, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights informed, citing its own sources.
The organization said that 22 militants have escaped fierce battles and returned to Syria.
The Observatory informs that 240 militants have been killed during this period, the bodies of 183 have been transported to Syria, the rest are left in Azerbaijan. In addition, the Armenian forces have taken captive three Syrian militants.
Turkey makes efforts to send more militants to Nagorno Karabakh conflict zone, but most of them refuse to go, citing religious differences with Azerbaijan and huge manpower losses, according to the Syrian Observatory.