BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:40 P.M.) – Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said on Friday that there is no evidence of mercenaries participating in the battles in Karabakh, as he claimed that “Baku does not need foreign fighters.”
Regarding the presence of mercenaries on the Azerbaijani side of Karabakh , Aliyev said, “There is no evidence. So these rumors must end. Azerbaijan is fighting alone. We do not need foreign fighters. We have enough people, and our army has enough soldiers and officers.”
However, despite Aliyev’s denials, reports from militant-held areas in Syria and video footage of Arabic-speaking fighters in Karabakh have surfaced over the last three weeks, prompting many observers to accuse Baku of using mercenaries.
Previously, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad said that militants from Syria are being transferred to Karabakh, and that Turkey is using terrorists from Syria and other countries in this conflict. Both Baku and Ankara have denied these accusations.
The head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergey Naryshkin, said, according to available information, that mercenaries from international terrorist organizations fighting in the Middle East are actively being pushed into the conflict zone in Karabakh, and he stressed: “We are talking about hundreds and even thousands of extremists.”
On 27 September, armed clashes erupted on the line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces in the Nagorno-Karabakh region and its adjacent areas, in the most dangerous escalation between the two parties in nearly three decades.