Criminal Indictment of Ankara-Backed Mercenaries Set for Trial

Mehrab Muhammad Al-Shkheir (left) and Yusuf Alaabet al-Hajji
Mehrab Muhammad Al-Shkheir (left) and Yusuf Alaabet al-Hajji

Mehrab Muhammad Al-Shkheir (left) and Yusuf Alaabet al-Hajji

Armenia’s Prosecutor General Declared 30 Mercenaries Wanted

A criminal indictment of two mercenaries captured and deposed during last fall’s war has been sent to a court in the Syunik Province, where the defendants will face trial for their role in fighting alongside Azerbaijani forces in their aggressive war against Artsakh.

The two defendants, Muhrab Muhammad al-Shkheri and Yousef Alabet al-Hajji, were charged with war crimes, according Arevik Khachatryan, a spokesperson for Armenia’s Prosecutor General’s office, who told Armenpress on Tuesday that similar cases are pending against 30 other mercenaries, who were sent to the Karabakh conflict zone by Turkey.

The Prosecutor General’s office has also identified the leader of one of the international terrorist groups that had been involved in Artsakh war.

“The identity of head of ‘Sultan Suleyman Shah’ terrorist organization Muhammad al-Ghasim, aka Abu Hamsha, a Syrian national, has been revealed,’’ Khachatryan said

“Muhrab Muhammad al-Shkheri and Yousef Alabet al-Hajji, not being a citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan, not permanently residing in its territory, not being members of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan, but being citizens of Syria, who were not sent by the Syrian Army or any other state in order to perform official duties, in exchange for material compensation, they took part in the aggressive war unleashed by the military-political leadership of the Republic of Azerbaijan on September 27, 2020, during which their actions were aimed at killing or causing serious bodily harm to civilians or persons not directly involved in the military operations aimed at intimidating them pursuing the goal to destabilize the domestic situation in Artsakh and Armenia,” reads the indictment against the mercenaries.

In late September, President Emanuel Macron of France was the first world leader to reveal the presence of what he called “Jihadists” fighting alongside Azerbaijani forces and sent to the conflict zone by official Ankara. Russia’s leadership has also acknowledged and criticized the deploying of mercenaries affiliated with known terrorist organizations, as have members of the U.S. intelligence community.

The two Syrian citizens who identify themselves as Yusuf Alaabet al-Hajji and Mehrab Muhammad Al-Shkheir were arrested and charged with international terrorism, gross violation of international humanitarian law norms during armed conflict, and terrorism.

“We were ordered to slaughter every Armenian in the village,” al-Haji told interrogators in November, adding that in addition to his promised monthly $2000 stipend, he and others were offered $100 for every Armenian they beheaded.

When he was captured by Artsakh forces on November 2, al-Hajji said he was a resident of the Ziyadiya village in the Jisr al-Shughur region of Idlib province of Syria. On October 30, another Ankara-backed mercenary calling himself Mehrab Muhammad al-Shkheir from the Syrian city of Hama was also captured.

In their testimonies the two terrorists provided detailed information about their recruitment process, the expected monthly payment for fighting against “kafirs” (infidels), the extra payment for the each beheaded Armenian, as well as about other orders they had to follow, which both said were given by Turkish and Azerbaijani military commanders.

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