Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Chief Sergey Naryshkin

MOSCOW — Russia possesses precise data about terrorist fighters from the Middle East involved in the ongoing conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, the country’s top intelligence official has said.

In an interview with RIA Novosti conducted by Russia Today news agency director-general Dmitry Kiselyov this week, head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Sergey Naryshkin also said that Moscow sees “separate elements of Turkish intelligence work” in the conflict zone.

Since the outbreak of hostilities in late September Armenia has insisted that Islamist mercenaries from Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East have been recruited by Turkey to fight on Azerbaijan’s side against Nagorno-Karabakh.

Late last Artsakh Defense Army captured at least two Syrian fighters in the battlefield. They showed videos of interrogations of the two men who admit they had been recruited by Turkey to fight for Azerbaijan.

According to Naryshkin, Russia got its information about the presence of terrorist fighters in Nagorno-Karabakh from various sources in the Middle East and elsewhere in the region.

“We have been receiving these data from a number of countries, from different sources and from our different partners, partner services in the Middle East,” he said.

At a news briefing on November 5, spokesperson for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova expressed Moscow’s lingering concerns about the deployment of jihadist fighters in Nagorno-Karabakh, saying that “All this cannot but raise our serious concern, as such developments are fraught with the emergence of a new terrorist enclave, now in the South Caucasus.”

In an interview with the Russian Kommersant daily earlier this week Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the number of mercenaries from the Middle East in Nagorno-Karabakh was approaching 2,000.

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