BAKU—Websites managed by Islamist rebel forces in Syria, responsible for attacks against the country’s Christian minorities, reported Wednesday that three more Azeri mercenaries fighting in its ranks have been killed.
The Azeri press, quoting the rebel sources reported that the three Azeris fought alongside rebels of the Al-Nusra front and were allegedly killed by pro-government forces.
Interestingly, Azeri news sources are not shying away from reporting that hundreds of their native mercenaries are currently fighting with Islamist rebels—the very factions reigning terror of Syria’s Christian communities, among them the Armenians.
Recently, Azeri media reported about a number of deaths of Azerbaijani mercenaries in Syria. In early April, the Turkish sites have reported that about 30 terrorists from Azerbaijan have already been killed in Syria. According to the Azerbaijani political scientist Arif Yunus, more than 300 Islamists from Azerbaijan are fighting in Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Azerbaijani mercenaries have even released an online video-recording calling for “jihad.”
The relationship between international terrorist groups and Azerbaijan originated in the early 1990s. During that time, the Azerbaijani army, having failed in the aggression against the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, retreated with losses. Trying to save the situation, the Azerbaijani leadership, headed by Heydar Aliyev, called on international terrorist organizations and radical groups from Afghanistan (Taliban, Hezb-e Islami, and others), Turkey (Grey Wolves), Chechnya (Chechen Mujahedeen) and other regions to join the fight against the Armenians of Karabakh.
Despite the involvement of thousands of foreign mercenaries and terrorists in the Azerbaijani army during the war, the Azerbaijani aggression against Nagorno-Karabakh Republic failed, and the Baku authorities were forced to sign an armistice with Karabakh and Armenia. However, international terrorists forged ties in Azerbaijan during the war, and used them in the future. Recruitment was conducted among Azerbaijanis, who then were sent to Afghanistan and the North Caucasus, where they participated in battles against NATO forces and the Russian government.
In recent years, citizens from Azerbaijan have been actively involved in terrorist and extremist activities in Russia, Afghanistan and Syria. In Azerbaijan, the citizens are brought to criminal liability for participating in “illegal armed groups” in Afghanistan, sentenced to minor terms of imprisonment.