Politics 13:19 14/10/2020 Region

"We’re being sent to our deaths" - Turkish-backed Syrian fighters tell The Wall Street Journal

Hundreds of fighters from Syrian militias allied with Turkey have joined the fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, and hundreds more are preparing to go, according to two Syrians involved in the effort, The World Street Journal reports.

Citing four people with direct knowledge of the sign-ups, the newspaper reports that
after skirmishes first flared in Nagorno-Karabakh in July, word spread among Syrian rebel factions that Turkey was enlisting fighters to go fight in the enclave.

It is noted that a Syrian rebel involved in deployments said fighters had been traveling there since mid-September—before the latest round of clashes—in groups of up to 100 at a time. Another Syrian with ties to the rebel groups also estimated hundreds had gone. Dozens have also returned, alarmed by the fierce fighting, that person said.

Turkey organized two weeks of land and aerial military drills in Azerbaijan after the July skirmishes and supplied the Azeri government with attack drones, according to Turkish officials. Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, has said the Turkish aircraft has given his country’s military an edge in the Nagorno-Karabakh fighting.

The Syrian rebel, who has been charged with preparing spreadsheets of men enlisting to go to Nagorno-Karabakh, said many were lured by monthly salaries of up to $2,000—a significant sum in the war-wrecked economy of Syria.

“Going to Libya or to Azerbaijan has become a normal thing,” said the fighter as quoted by the newspaper, adding that he briefly considered signing up himself because he struggles to support his family.

Another 38-year-old Syrian rebel signed up to fight in Azerbaijan, motivated by the promised monthly salary of $1,500. “We’re being sent to our deaths,” the fighter told the newspaper. “But in the end we care about providing bread for our families.”

The rebel, who said he was waiting to be deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh, plans to cross from Syria into Turkey, where he said chartered flights transport the fighters to Azerbaijan.

One Syrian who has long worked with the rebel groups and who has been in direct contact with two Syrian men fighting in Azerbaijan said he has been told that casualties among the Syrian fighters are rising fast.

“They say it’s hell,” said the man, who added that as many as 200 have already asked to return. “Those who have gone there and not been killed or injured in some way are the exception. Some of the fighters already want to come back.”



Source Panorama.am
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