YEREVAN, September 7. /ARKA/.Southern Caucasus may become a new foothold for militants from international terror groups, Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) head Sergey Naryshkin said in a statement, published by the SVR press service Tuesday, TASS reported.
“The escalating standoff in Karabakh attracts militants from various international terror groups like a magnet,” Naryshkin underscored.
“We cannot stay unconcerned over the fact that Southern Caucasus may become a new foothold for the international terror groups, which would allow the militants to infiltrate other states bordering Azerbaijan and Armenia, including Russia,” he said.
“According to the SVR information, mercenaries from international terror group, such as the Nusra Front, the Firqat al-Hamza, the Sultan Murad Division, fighting in the Middle East, as well as Kurdish extremist groups actively converge in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict area,” Naryshkin said.
Naryshkin reminded that while clashes along the contact line in Nagorno-Karabakh happened before, current escalation causes particular concerns not only by its scale, but also by qualitatively different effect of external factors.
“It is the first time that Turkey acts in favor of Azerbaijan so openly and unambiguously,” the intelligence head noted. At the same time, he expressed his certainty that the sides to the conflict will be able to cease hostilities and return to negotiations.
“We have no doubts that, with assistance from the international community, the sides to the conflict will finally stop using force and sit down at the negotiations table,” Naryshkin noted.
He underscored that a new war in the region is unacceptable for Russia as the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairman nation.
“We are also concerned that people of our friendly Armenian and Azerbaijani nations die in the hostilities,” the SVR head said.
According to official Armenian sources, some 3,454 Azerbaijani soldiers were killed in the fighting since September 27 when Azerbaijan launched missiles, artillery shells, and suicide drones against civilian populations in Artsakh’s capital Stepanakert as well as other civilian populations in and around Artsakh, as well as against certain areas of the Republic of Armenia’s town of Vardenis, causing death and injury to dozens of civilians. Armenian troops of Artsakh wounded also 5,000 Azeri soldiers, destroyed 368 tanks and armored vehicles, 4 MLRS Smerch, Uragan, and 3 MLRS TOS-1A, 126 UAVs, 16 helicopters, 17 aircraft.
According to the defense departments of Armenia and Artsakh, more than 220 Armenian servicemen were killed, several hundred were wounded. As a result of war crimes by Azerbaijan, 21 civilians were killed in Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia and over 80 wounded. -0-