Syrian mercenaries in Azerbaijan

Syrian mercenaries in Azerbaijan

On 7 October 2020, Belgian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Tom Vandendriessche of the Identity and Democracy Group posed a written parliamentary question to the Vice-President of the Commission and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell:

“During the ongoing war in Nagorno-Karabakh, Turkey is reported to have flown Syrian mercenaries to Baku to fight on the Azerbaijani side. Thee mercenaries are said to belong to the Hamza Division, a component of the Syrian National Army trained by Turkey. Since the Armenian and Azerbaijani governments contradict each other on this, I would like a clear answer to the following questions:

1. Are any Turkey-backed mercenaries from Syria active in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?

2. Can those mercenaries be labelled jihadists?”

On 1 February 2021, High Representative and Vice-President Borrell responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The Conclusions of the European Council (1-2 October 2020) underline that there can be no military solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, nor any external interference. In a Declaration on behalf of the EU (11 October 2020), the High Representative called on all actors, including external parties, to refrain from any actions that may lead to further casualties. As regards the claims from both sides of the presence of foreign fighters in the conflict, the EU is not in a position to verify such claims, as the EU is not present on the ground.

The EU welcomes the cessation of hostilities in and around Nagorno-Karabakh. The ceasefire of 10 November 2020 will prevent further loss of life. It hopefully represents a first step towards a comprehensive settlement of the conflict. The EU continues to support the established international format accepted by the sides, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group led by its Co-chairs.

The EU stands ready to contribute to these efforts and to the implementation of this and other agreements leading to sustainable peace and to a prosperous development of the entire South Caucasus region. The EU has already provided humanitarian assistance to cover the most urgent needs of civilians affected by the conflict in and around Nagorno-Karabakh.”


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