Two alleged mercenaries from Syria to stand trial in Armenia

13 April 2021
Investigative Committee of Armenia. Official photo.

Armenian police have completed their investigation into two men captured during the Second Nagorno-Karabakh war who are accused of being mercenaries from Syria. If the findings are approved by the prosecutor’s office, the men will stand trial in Armenia and face a slate of criminal charges, including terrorism.

Armenia’s Investigative Committee reiterated on Monday that the two men, identified as Muhrab Muhammad Al-Shkheir, 45, and Yousef Alabed Alhajj, 28, are mercenaries who were recruited to ‘terrorise civilians’ in Nagorno-Karabakh. 

Back in December 2020, the Investigative Committee stated that the two men were not subject to repatriation or exchange and would not be handed over to Azerbaijan through the ‘all for all’ prisoner exchange principle.

Armenia claimed it captured the two in November. According to numerous investigations, including those undertaken by Reuters and the BBC — as well as Russian and French authorities — the Turkish government recruited hundreds of fighters in Syria who were then deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh as combatants on the Azerbaijani side.

On 11 November, two days after the tripartite peace declaration brought an end to the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, a group of UN experts condemned the use of mercenaries in Nagorno-Karabakh and urged for them to be withdrawn. 

‘We call strongly on the sides, and the States supporting them, to immediately withdraw any mercenaries and related actors and not to engage in further recruitment, funding and deployment’, the experts said.

Both Azerbaijani and Turkish authorities have denied that they deployed mercenaries during the fighting. 

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