Armenia was transporting fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, Turkish daily Yeni Şafak reported on September 25, citing Azerbaijani media outlets.
Nagorno-Karabakh is a landlocked region within Azerbijan governed by the Republic of Artsakh, a de facto independent state with an Armenian ethnic majority established on the basis of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic.
Azerbaijan has not exercised political authority over the region since the emergence of the Karabakh movement in 1988.
According to the Azerbaijani media, Armenia is transporting Kurdish fighters to Nagorno-Karabakh to train local formations on sabotage, raids and improvised explosive devices.
Azeri sources claimed that Armenian Ambassador to Iraq, Hrachya Poladian, had orchestrated the deal with the YPG and the PKK in Syria and Iraq. Poladian also reached an agreement with northern Iraq’s Patriotic Union for the transfer of Kurdish fighters from Iraq.
Kurdish fighters are allegedly following several routes through Iran to reach Nagorno-Karabakh. The two main routes are:
- From Iraq’s Sulaymaniyah to Sabis, then to Kermanshah in Iran and from there to Nagorno-Karabakh.
- From Mount Qandil in Iraq to Iran’s Urmiya then to Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Azeri claims against Armenia appear to be a response to recent reports of Turkish-backed Syrian militants heading to Azerbaijan to work as mercenaries for the country’s armed forces.
A recent report by the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights revealed that Turkey had already sent 300 Syrian militants to Azerbaijan.
Many opposition activists and sources in Turkish-backed groups have confirmed the deployment to Azerbaijan. A recent leaked audio message even revealed that the militants, most of whom are radicals, were shocked that Azerbaijan was a Shiite-majority country.
Another TFSA recording re: Azerbaijan. “We won’t stand with the Shias; they’re our enemies more than the Jews and Christians.”
(Whether they’re there or not, I was personally looking forward to these guys learning that Azerbaijan is a Shia-majority country.) pic.twitter.com/jVJdwrWQyN
— Lindsey Snell (@LindseySnell) September 25, 2020
The Azerbaijan Armed Forces and the Armenian military engaged in a series of skirmishes in July. Back then, Turkey vowed to provide military assistance to the Azerbaijani Armed Forces.
The recent reports of Turkish-backed Syrian militants being deployed in Azerbaijan and the Azeri media claims of ongoing cooperation between Yerevan and Kurdish groups indicate that tension between the two counties will continue to rise.
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