Turkey deploys Syrian fighters to Azerbaijan – Greek City Times

Turkey is transferring Syrian fighters to Azerbaijan as tensions escalate with neighbouring Armenia, the Greek City Times said on Wednesday citing journalist Lindsey Snell.

Turkey is a staunch supporter of Azerbaijan in its tensions with Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.   

And a rise in recent hostilities, including fighting that saw 28 killed in July, has raised the prospect of a return to war between the two sides.

Members of the Hamza Division, a Syrian militia group armed and trained by Turkey, arrived in the Azerbaijani capital Baku on Monday, Snell said, citing photos provided from a source within the group.

An unconfirmed number are already in Azerbaijan, she said, with thousands more expected to arrive in the coming days.

The Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly denied the claims, Greek City Times said. 

The Hamza Division is a key component of the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) through which Ankara exerts influence in northern Syria.

A United Nations report released last week accused the Hamza Division and other SNA groups of systematic war crimes in areas under their control since Turkish military operations captured the predominantly Kurdish cities of Afrin in 2018 and Ras al Ayn in 2019.

The report accused SNA groups, including the Hamza division, of “hostage taking, cruel treatment and torture, and rape, which may also amount to torture”

“SNA members also looted and destroyed cultural property, in violation of international humanitarian law”, the U.N. said.

SNA fighters have also been used in the Libyan conflict, where Turkey has sought to prop up the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli.

With Libya moving towards a political settlement, SNA units are being redeployed to Azerbaijan along with reinforcements from Syria, Snell said.

Following the clashes, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pledged support for Azerbaijan, including military equipment and defence systems.