Russia has accurate information on participation of Syrian mercenaries in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, where elements of Turkish intelligence have been active, Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Director Sergey Naryshkin said in an interview, Kurdish news outlet Hawar reported.
Naryshkin told head of Russia’s Rossiya Segodnya news agency Dmitry Kiselyov that he saw “separate elements of Turkish intelligence work” in the conflict zone.
According to Naryshkin, there were fighters and mercenaries from countries other than Syria participating in the southern Caucasus conflict as well, Spuntik Turkish reported.
The information comes from “various sources” and “partnered intelligence services” in the Middle East, according to the SVR chief.
Earlier in the week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said there were already close to 2,000 foreign mercenaries in the region, fighting against Armenian forces. “We have repeatedly called on external players to use their capabilities to prevent the transfer of mercenaries,” Lavrov said.
This week, Armenian forces released footage that allegedly shows two Syrian men, one of whom details how Turkey was involved in his recruitment from Syria’s rebel-held Idlib, and another says he was transferred to the frontline from Turkey.
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova expressed concern during a briefing on Thursday that “mercenaries with a radical disposition who bear jihadist ideology” being transported to the Caucasus caused concern for Russia that the region would come under “threat of formation of a terrorist enclave,” as cited by Armenpress.
Turkey and Azerbaijan strongly deny any transfer of fighters to the region to aid Azerbaijan’s fight to regain control in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh, which is recognized as Azeri territory but is governed by an ethnically Armenian majority. Since Sept. 27, when the decades-long conflict saw its bloodiest flare up to date, Turkish forces have also been accused of fighting alongside the Azeri army, and of providing Western-made weapons and equipment to Azerbaijan.