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Over 300 Syrian Islamists arrive in Karabakh via Turkey — Macron

The French leader said Russia is aware of this fact
French President Emmanuel Macron EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET / POOL
French President Emmanuel Macron

BRUSSELS, October 2. /TASS/. France confirms that more than 300 radical Islamists from Syria arrived in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone via Turkey’s Gaziantep, French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters after the first day of the EU summit in Brussels.

"I can assure that more than 300 Syrian Islamist militants, earlier taken out of the Aleppo zone, were deployed to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone via Turkey’s Gaziantep [to take part in the hostilities on Azerbaijan’s side]," he said. "This is a confirmed fact, those people have been identified and tracked down, all of them have links with the Islamic State terrorist group [outlawed in Russia]," Macron said.

"I discussed this with President Vladimir Putin, who confirmed that Russia has also been informed about this," the French leader added.

"[Turkey’s] behavior is unworthy of a NATO member state, we consider such actions to be totally inadmissible. In this case, the red line had already been crossed," he said.

The French leader went on to say that France and its co-chairs in the OSCE Minsk Group on Nagorno Karabakh - Russia and the United States - will come up with a series of initiatives to stop the conflict.

"Russia, the United States and France, as co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group will undertake a series of initiatives to stop the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh in the nearest possible time," he said. "We maintain close working contacts."

Meanwhile, European Council President Charles Michel said that EU leaders urge Turkey to stop interfering in the Nagorno-Karabakh issue and play a constructive role in de-escalating the situation.

"Yes, everyone should play a more constructive role to promote de-escalation. We want foreign interference to stop, it only makes the situation more difficult," he said.

Renewed clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia erupted on September 27, with intense battles raging in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The area experienced flare-ups of violence in the summer of 2014, in April 2016 and this past July. Azerbaijan and Armenia have imposed martial law and launched mobilization efforts. Both parties to the conflict have reported casualties, among them civilians.

The conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory that had been part of Azerbaijan before the Soviet Union break-up, but primarily populated by ethnic Armenians, broke out in February 1988 after the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region announced its withdrawal from the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1992-1994, tensions boiled over and exploded into large-scale military action for control over the enclave and seven adjacent territories after Azerbaijan lost control of them. Talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement have been ongoing since 1992 under the OSCE Minsk Group, led by its three co-chairs - Russia, France and the United States.