The head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergei Naryshkin, has warned that Nagorno-Karabakh risks becoming a launchpad for terrorists who could enter Russian territory, TASS news agency cited him as saying on Tuesday.
“The flaring up armed confrontation in Karabakh, like a magnet, attracts militants from various international terrorist structures,” Naryshkin stressed.
“We cannot but be concerned that the South Caucasus is capable of becoming a new launchpad for international terrorist organizations, from where militants can subsequently enter states neighboring Azerbaijan and Armenia, including Russia,” he stressed.
“According to the information available in the Foreign Intelligence Service, mercenaries from the international terrorist organizations fighting in the Middle East, such as Jabhat al-Nusra (banned in Russia), Firkat al-Hamza, Sultan Murad, as well as extremist Kurdish groups, are actively moving into the conflict zone,” said Naryshkin.
He stressed that ‘we are talking about hundreds and even thousands of radicals hoping to make money on the new Karabakh war.”
On Tuesday, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad joined Armenia and France in accusing Turkey of sending Syrian mercenaries to fight in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone on Azerbaijan’s side.
Assad also blamed Ankara and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in particular for the war in Karabakh that erupted on September 27.
“They [the Turks] are the ones who started this conflict,” he told the Russian RIA Novosti news agency. “They encouraged this conflict.”
“We can say for sure that they have been using terrorists of Syrian and other nationalities in Nagorno-Karabakh,” he said.
In recent weeks Western media and Syrian opposition sources have quoted members of Islamist rebel groups in areas of northern Syria under Turkish control as saying that they are deploying to Azerbaijan in coordination with the Turkish government. Most of them have given financial reasons for agreeing to participate in hostilities in and around Karabakh.
Asked to comment on the reports, Assad said: “Definitely we can confirm it. Not because we have evidence. Sometimes if you don’t have evidence you have indications.”
“Turkey used those terrorists coming from different countries in Syria. They used the same method in Libya. They used Syrian terrorists in Libya, maybe with other nationalities,” he told RIA Novosti.
“So it’s self-evident and very much probable that they are using them in Nagorno-Karabakh,” added the Syrian leader.