On November 28, a photo showing two uniformed men holding a black banner in front of Yukhari Govhar Agha Mosque in Shusha’s town center in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh surfaced on social media.
A number of Armenian sources and activists claimed that the photo showed two Turkish-backed Syrian mercenaries holding a jihad banner.
While it’s true that hundreds of Syrian mercenaries supported Azerbaijan’s attack on Nagorno-Karabakh, the uniformed men seen in the photo cannot be Syrians and the banner they are holding is not affiliated with jihadism.
The banner seen in the photo bears the Arabic phrase “Ya Hussain,” which is only used by Shiites to invoke the memory or intervention of Hussain ibn Ali, the grandson of prophet Muhammad.
Syrian mercenaries who fought with Azerbaijani forces in Nagorno-Karabakh were radical Sunnis, who are infamous for opposing and despising Shiite ideology.
The uniformed men seen in the photo from Shusha were most likely Azerbaijani service members. The vast majority of Azerbaijan’s population are Shiites.
Most Syrian militants were fighting to overthrow the regime in their country because it was “secular” and allied to Shiite Iran. However, when offered money, they didn’t mind fighting alongside Shiites in a foreign land.
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