Turkey has a long history of aggression against Armenians; it has never acknowledged its genocide of 1.5 million Armenians at the end of the first world war. It was with Turkey’s funding, munitions and guidance that Azerbaijan attacked Armenian towns and cities in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh in September-November 2020. Armenian president Sarkissian said he wanted to visit NATO’s Brussels headquarters to “get explanations” as to why “Turkish weapons, drones and F-16 are involved in the process of bombing Armenia and Armenian civilians in huge numbers. These are NATO-made weapons: the engines from Austria, the avionics are from Canada and the parts of the rockets are from Britain and so on.”

Erdogan reportedly sent, and paid, mercenaries allied to Al-Qaida to Azerbaijan to attack Armenians in the disputed region. Some of these were given military training in Syria. Several sources state that 30 such mercenaries and their families were flown on a Turkish Airlines flight from the Turkish city of Antakya in Hatay province to the Azeri capital Baku.

The UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries said “the fighters deployed to Azerbaijan are allegedly affiliated with armed groups and individuals that, in some cases, have been accused of war crimes and serious human rights abuses during the conflict in Syria, thus seemingly perpetuating a cycle of impunity and risking further abuses of international law”.