Turkey had moved some of its Syrian proxies from the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan to Ukraine, Sputnik reported on March 9, citing a source in the Syrian opposition.
More than 2,000 Turkish-backed Syrian militants were moved to Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020, where they took part in the large-scale Azerbaijani offensive on Armenian forces in the region.
According to Sputnik’s source, Turkey is now working to move all the remaining militants in Nagorno-Karabakh to Ukraine. The militants will be fighting the Russian military which is currently counducting a special military operation to “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine.
“Turkey has transferred some of the mercenaries, including Syrian militants and others from different nationalities, from Karabakh to Ukraine, and intends to transfer the rest in batches, to participate in the battle on the side of the Ukrainian military,” the unnamed source said.
The source noted that some of the Turkish-backed militants who were moved to Ukraine have already joined the so-called “International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine”.
Sputnik’s report is not surprising. One recent report revealed that Ukrainian intelligence agents paid a secret visit to northern Syria to hire Turkish-backed militants on February 4, around 20 days before the beginning of the Russian special operation in Ukraine. Another recent report exposed ongoing work to recruit terrorists from al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, the de-facto ruler of the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib, to fight against the Russian military in Ukraine.
Turkey may be moving Syrian militants indirectly from Nagorno-Karabakh to Ukraine in order to avoid any reaction from the Russian military who maintains a large, capable force in Syria.