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Yerevan says Karabakh forces capture terrorist from Syria fighting for Azerbaijan

The captive admitted he had come to the engagement line in Karabakh on October 19 together with 250 other terrorists who had been sent to the area by Turkey, according to the Armenian Defense Ministry press secretary

YEREVAN, October 30. /TASS/. The defense army of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic captured a terrorist from the Syrian city of Hama fighting as a mercenary for Azerbaijan in Karabakh, Armenian Defense Ministry Press Secretary Shushan Stepanyan wrote on Facebook on Friday.

The Armenian Defense Ministry press secretary also uploaded a video of the captured mercenary’s interrogation.

"The defense army units have captured a terrorist and his first interrogation leaves no doubts that mercenary terrorists are present on the frontline of the Azerbaijani army. The captured Islamist’s name is Mehred Muhammad Alshkher. He comes from the Syrian city of Hama," she said.

The captive admitted during interrogation he had come to the engagement line in Karabakh on October 19 together with 250 other terrorists who had been sent to the area by Turkey, Stepanyan said.

"They were promised $2,000 but were not paid. After he was wounded, his fellow fighters left him on the battlefield. He says they are the first to fight on the frontline while the Azerbaijani forces come in the second and third echelons," the Armenian Defense Ministry spokeswoman said.

The captive said that "before going to the frontline, they were gathered in a camp where Turkish military instructors worked with them," Stepanyan said.

Turkey’s involvement in the Karabakh conflict

The Armenian authorities have numerously accused Turkey of its involvement in the military conflict in Karabakh. Yerevan says Turkish servicemen are fighting for the Azerbaijani army while Turkey has assumed command of aerial battles and is also redeploying terrorists from the Middle East, in particular, from Syria and Libya, to Karabakh.

Conflict escalation

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.

Ceasefire agreements have been reached three times but the hostilities continue and the warring parties keep blaming each other for violating the truce.

The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the highland region of 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.