Syrian mercenaries have withdrawn from the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, where they fought for Azerbaijan in a heated battle, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on December 15.
Syrian mercenaries were sent to Nagorno-Karabakh by Turkey, which backed Azerbaijan’s attack on Armenian forces in the region. The attack, which started on September 27, came to an end on November 9 with a Russian-brokered peace deal.
According to the SOHR, the last batch of Syrian mercenaries returned to Syria from Nagorno-Karabakh a few days ago. Around 800 were still in the region prior to the final withdrawal.
“The number of mercenaries transferred to Azerbaijan by the Turkish government, has reached 2,580 fighters, of whom 514 were killed and others were captured,” the monitoring group’s report reads. “Meanwhile, the fate of 240 fighters remains unknown to date, while the rest returned to Syria as their mission ended and the Azerbaijani government refused to maintain them in Azerbaijan.”
Every of Syrian mercenaries was promised a monthly salary of up to $2000. However, the SOHR said the mercenaries received a total payment of $1,000 to 3,500 only.
For most of the battle, Syrian mercenaries were deployed on Nagorno-Karabakh’s hottest frontlines, where they were used as “cannon fodder” by Azerbaijani forces.
Turkey planned to settle the mercenaries and their families in Nagorno-Karabakh to establish a lasting influence in the region. However, Azerbaijan rejected this plan and insisted that all mercenaries should return to Syria.
The withdrawal of Syrian mercenaries, many of who are reportedly radicals, will help stabilize Nagorno-Karabakh and facilitate the return of refugees.
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