Car belonging to Armenian journalists in Martuni

October 1: War Continues As France, Russia and US Confirm Presence of Foreign Fighters

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YEREVAN and STEPANAKERT (Combined Sources) — The following were among the developments on October 1 of the military action launched against Armenia and Artsakh on September 27.

  • The Foreign Ministry of Armenia has decided to recall its Ambassador from Israel for consultations, Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Anna Naghdalyan said on October 1.

“The Armenian Foreign Ministry has clearly expressed its position over the Israeli arms sales to Azerbaijan. This issue has always been on our bilateral agenda. Providing modern arms by Israel to Azerbaijan is inadmissible for us, we have many times used our diplomatic channels to tell our Israeli partners about it  and mentioned that it’s particularly insulting when it takes place when Azerbaijan, supported by Turkey, carried out a large-scale aggression against Artsakh and Armenia. The Israeli side continues providing arms to Azerbaijan and this behavior is inadmissible for us. Given the aforementioned, the Foreign Ministry has decided to recall the Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to Israel for consultations’’, Naghdalyan said.

There are media reports that two airplanes carrying arms landed in Azerbaijan from Israel today. In 2016, during the 4-day April war between Artsakh and Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani forces used Israeli drones.

  • Several reporters were injured. Two French reporters from Le Monde were injured seriously in Martuni by Azerbaijani shelling. In addition, a cameraman for the ARMENIA TV Channel, a reporter of 24News, Deputy chief editor of Russian“Dozhd”  were wounded as Azeri forces shelled the town of Martuni.

The Azerbaijani armed forces also targeted a vehicle transporting the crew of the Agence France-Presse (AFP) international news agency in Artsakh.

  • Two of the three Azeri warplanes that were shot down by Artsakh on October 1 were SU-25s, while the other one was a newer generation aircraft, a military expert said.

The Azeri air force has lost a total of 4 warplanes since they launched the offensive against Artsakh on September 27.

  • Days after the outbreak of the fighting in the Artsakh region, a high-ranking official in the US Defense Department confirmed the validity of the information that spoke about sending hundreds of Syrian mercenaries from Turkey to support Azerbaijan.

The official, who asked not to be named, revealed to Sky News Arabia “The reports and information that spoke about dozens of trips between Turkey and Azerbaijan in the past days to transport hundreds of Syrian mercenaries are proven and correct.”

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There are numerous international media reports saying that the number of Syrian mercenaries sent by Turkey to Azerbaijan against Artsakh ranges between 3,000-4,000.

In addition, French President Emmanuel Macron accused Turkey on Thursday of sending Syrian mercenaries to fight in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on Azerbaijan’s side.

“We have information that indicates with certainty that Syrian fighters from jihadist groups have transited through [the Turkish city of] Gaziantep to reach the theatre of operations in Nagorno-Karabakh,” said French President Emmanuel Macron “This is a very serious new fact, which changes the situation.”

“We have agreed with President [Donald] Trump and President [Vladimir] Putin to exchange all the information we have on this situation and to draw all the consequences,” Macron added as he arrived for a summit with other European Union leaders in Brussels.

Foreign fighters in Artsakh, fighting for Azerbaijan

According to Macron’s office, the French and Russian presidents “shared their concern regarding the sending of Syrian mercenaries by Turkey to Nagorno-Karabakh” when they spoke by phone on Wednesday night.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed serious concern over what it described as a dispatch of Syrian and Libyan “terrorists and mercenaries” to the Karabakh conflict zone. It demanded their “immediate withdrawal from the region.”

Earlier this week, the Reuters news agency quoted two fighters from Islamist rebel groups in areas of northern Syria under Turkish control as saying that they are deploying to Azerbaijan in coordination with Ankara. One of them claimed that nearly 1,000 Syrians are set to be sent to Azerbaijan.

According to Reuters, both men said they were told by their Syrian brigade commanders they will earn around $1,500 a month. One of them claimed that nearly 1,000 Syrians are set to be sent to Azerbaijan.

Armenia maintains that Islamist militants from the Middle East are participating in the hostilities in Karabakh. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan hailed the Russian and French statements confirming their presence.

“The international community has now clearly stated that the Azerbaijani-Turkish alliance is waging a war against Artsakh (Karabakh) and Armenia with the help and involvement of foreign terrorist fighters,” Pashinyan said in a Facebook post.

He said the mercenaries also pose an equally serious security threat to the United States, Russia, France as well as Iran.

An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman reportedly warned on Wednesday that Tehran “will not allow terrorist groups in the areas adjacent to the northern borders of our country to become a center of threat against our national security.”

“We urge the leaders of the interested states to take effective measures to prevent the use of foreign terrorists and mercenaries in the conflict, and we call for their immediate withdrawal from the region,” said the statement.

Citing unnamed “reliable sources,” the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the first group of 300 Syrian mercenaries was flown to Azerbaijan on September 24, three days before the outbreak of fierce fighting along the Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact” around Karabakh.

Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan expressed serious concern over the “recruitment of foreign terrorist combatants by Turkey, their transfer to Azerbaijan and involvement in hostilities” when he spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday.

(Armenpress, new.am and RFE/RL contributed to this report.)

 

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