Azerbaijan has repeatedly denied the presence of foreign fighters in the conflict zone, but the publication of confessions of Syrian mercenaries reinforced suspicion of the Azerbaijani exile.
Heavy fighting has continued near the front line in the mountain enclave and seven surrounding areas, with more than a thousand people, and possibly many more, killed since the fighting broke out more than a month ago.
Reports have been issued indicating Turkey’s involvement in sending hundreds of Syrian militants to the battle fronts in Nagorny Karaibagh to fight alongside Azerbaijan against Armenia.
Despite repeated Turkish denials, the publication of recent confessions of Syrian fighters embarrassed Ankara.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had indicated in previous reports that the number of Syrian mercenaries who reached the battle fronts in Nagorny Karabakh reached 2,350 armed men.
In its latest report, the Observatory stated that the pro-Turkish Syrian fighters incurred casualties during their participation in the battles of the Nagorno Karabakh region alongside the Azerbaijani forces.
The observatory indicated that the death toll of the mercenaries since they were brought into the first ranks of the battles by the Turkish government, that is, since the end of last September, has reached at least 231 dead.
Nagorno Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but it is inhabited and controlled by Armenians.
The conflict has highlighted Turkey’s growing influence in a former Soviet region that Russia considers a sphere of influence. There is a defense agreement between Russia and Armenia.
Armenias Foreign Ministry said on Monday that the Armenian army in Nagorno Karabakh captured a second Syrian fighter at the weekend.
She added that the fighter is from the Syrian province of Idlib. She added that another fighter from the Syrian Hama was captured on Friday.
On Facebook, Pashinyan said that the involvement of “foreign mercenaries” represents “a threat not only to the security of Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia, but also to international security, and this issue must be subject to an international investigation.”
The Ministry of Defense in Nagorno Karabakh said that overnight battles took place along the northwestern part of the front. She added that it repelled the Azerbaijani forces in heavy fighting.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said that it repelled an attack on its positions in the Zhangilan region between the enclave and the Iranian border, while army units in the regions of Jizakh, Tovuz and Dashkisan were bombed.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said on Twitter that his country had taken back other areas in Zhangilan, Gobadli and Gebrayel.
Azerbaijan’s gains on the battlefield, since it began on September 27, have reduced its drive for a lasting peace agreement, and it has also complicated international efforts for a ceasefire. Three ceasefire agreements have collapsed.
The Nagorno Karabakh army said that 1,177 of its personnel were killed. Azerbaijan does not announce its military losses. Russia put the death toll on both sides at 5,000.
Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said today, Monday, that artillery strikes in the disputed Nagorno Karabakh pocket may reach the level of war crimes, and urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to stop attacks on civilian areas, schools and hospitals.
She added that despite the agreement reached in Geneva on Friday between Armenia and Azerbaijan to refrain from deliberately targeting civilians, artillery shells were reported to be fired at populated areas earlier this week.
Bachelet pointed to credible video tapes showing the execution of two Armenian soldiers in their uniforms.