YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Islamist militants operating in Syria and Iraq could flock to Azerbaijan in case of a major escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan claimed on Friday, May 17.
“There are large numbers of militants of radical Islamist groups in Syria, and they realize that they have no place in Syria and Iraq anymore,” Pashinyan told Russian journalists in Yerevan. “According to our information, they are now looking for a new place where they can move.”
“If a new escalation starts in our region, that would be a good excuse for them to go to, say, Azerbaijan,” he claimed. “For them, that’s a very convenient point from which they could extend their operations towards Iran, Russia, the South Caucasus and Central Asia.”
A war in Karabakh, Pashinyan went on, could therefore spill over into neighboring countries. He said he hopes Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan realize this.
According to the Sputnik news agency, Pashinyan also stated that Moscow is capable of preventing renewed large-scale fighting in Karabakh. “I’m sure that Russia has all the leverage to prevent an escalation in the Karabakh region,” he said. “And I can’t believe that Russia will not use that leverage when necessary.”