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6 Oct, 2020 10:45

Assad says it’s ‘very probable’ Turkey is ferrying Syrian militants to fight in ‘Erdogan instigated’ Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Assad says it’s ‘very probable’ Turkey is ferrying Syrian militants to fight in ‘Erdogan instigated’ Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Syrian President Bashar Assad says he agrees with Russian and French reports suggesting Turkey has been sending militants, from his country, to fight in Nagorno-Karabakh, where clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan continue.

Assad also labeled  Turkey the ‘instigator’ of the conflict. "We definitely can confirm it, not because we have [direct] evidence, but sometimes if you don't have evidence you have indicators,” the Syrian president exclaimed, in an exclusive interview with Moscow news agency Sputnik. Recalling recent history, he suggested Turkey has relied on “terrorist” manpower either on Syrian soil or in other locations across the region.

“Turkey used terrorists coming from different countries in Syria. They used the same method in Libya; they used Syrian terrorists in Libya, maybe with other nationalities,” the president told Sputnik. These instances are enough for him to be convinced that Turkey employs similar tactics when it comes to the ongoing Armenian-Azeri hostilities, he insisted.

So, it’s self-evident and very probable that they are using that method in Nagorno-Karabakh because, as I said earlier, they are the ones who started this problem, this conflict; they encouraged this conflict.

Unloading on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Assad called him “the main instigator and initiator” of the Nagorno-Karabakh hostilities. “I would sum up his behavior as dangerous, for different reasons,” the Syrian leader offered.

Syria’s deep-seated animosity towards Ankara was fuelled by the 2016 Turkish intervention in northern Syria, which came under the pretext of safeguarding Turkey’s borders from Syrian Kurdish insurgents. Turkish forces and allied Syrian militias took control of the large swathes of the north of Syria, drawing accusations of 'occupation' from Damascus.

A week ago, Syria’s foreign minister labeled Turkey a ‘sponsor of terrorism’ in his UN General Assembly address. The Turks that facilitated “entry of tens of thousands of foreign terrorists into Syria” are still supporting Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist organizations, he warned. 

Allegations that Turkey has been deploying Syrian mercenaries to aid its ally Azerbaijan in its fight against Armenians surfaced shortly after heavy fighting broke out in Nagorno-Karabakh on September 27.

Yerevan suggested “about 4,000 militants” crossed into Azerbaijan from Turkey, while France’s President Emmanuel Macron echoed this claim, citing “reliable information” of such a deployment. Syrian irregulars have used the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep as a gateway, he alleged.

Also on rt.com Azerbaijan & Armenia at war: What you need to know about bloody conflict over long-disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh (MAP)

Baku has strenuously rebuked the Armenian accusations, calling them “complete nonsense” and “cheap political propaganda,” and insisting that Azerbaijan is in no need of mercenary reinforcements or any kind of third-party help from Turkey. It also demanded an apology from France over Macron’s remarks.

Ankara has also denied involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh hostilities, describing the accusations as part of Armenian efforts to create “dark propaganda” about Turkey, according to Reuters. Previously, a Turkish presidential adviser used the same language while dismissing the claims as a disinformation campaign.

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