(A) NAMES OF JIHADIST AND OTHER GROUPS WHOSE AFFILIATES TURKEY HAs DEPLOYED TO FIGHT IN KARABAKH, (B) NAMES OF THEse AFFILIATES, AND (C) DETAILS OF TURKEY’S DIRECT INVOLVEMENT IN THE KARABAKH WAR

Below are the evolving lists of jihadist and other groups (Lists A.1) whose members have been  reportedly deployed by Turkey to fight in Karabakh that I compiled using information that I found in mainstream English-language news and/or analytical sources. I have also compiled a list of some of the individual members of these groups who have been dispatched to fight in Karabakh, but obviously there are more to add (List B1.) . Much more, unfortunately. I have also begun to compile a list of evidence of the Turkish military’s direct involvement in preparation and execution of Azerbaijan military’s attempted offensives (Lists C.1 and C.2).


Errare humanum est and my area of expertise is Russia/FSU, not Syria, so if you see any yikes or wish to amplify or suggest update, do let me know in comments.

You can also download these lists in PDF format, which preserves original formatting with bullet points, by clicking on the link below.

The author is thankful to Emil Sanamyan for sending a variety of reports containing relevant information.

Latest update: November 17, 2020

Table A1: The following jihadist and other groups have had their members reportedly deployed by Turkey to fight in Karabakh, according to information reported by Western media reports and academic sources.

NoName of group, whose present and/or past affiliates have been deployed to Azerbaijan to fightNumber of present and/or past affiliates deployed to Azerbaijan to fight, Number of KIAsDescription of the groupSources cited by following organizations:
1ISISN/ATurkman Sayf Balud  appeared in an ISIS propaganda video and who has been described as a former ISIS commander is now fighting in Karabakh (see more info on him below). Sunni Jihadist group, known for large-scale atrocities against not only combatants, but also civilians, including terrorist acts in Europe, Russia and Middle East. Established a branch in Russia’s North Caucasus (Vilayat Kavkaz).Reuters, 09.29.30, Veysi Dag of University London in Open Democracy, 10.02.20; Michael Rubin in National Interest, 11.09.20. (also reported in Modern Diplomacy, 10.28.20, Simon Schofield in Jerusalem Post, 11.01.20)
2Ahrar al-ShamN/ASunni Jihadist group, Ahrar al-Sham worked with the Islamic State until January 2014, acted as Al Qaeda’s representative in Syria, according to Stanford’s resource on militant organizations.Designated as terrorist organization by Russia.Reuters, 09.28.20, MSN, 10.08.20, Stanford, RFE/RL, 09.30.20, Independent, 10.09.20, Veysi Dag of University London in Open Democracy, 10.02.20.    
3Jaysh al-NukhbaN/A from international news organizations, but Armenpress reports at least 11 KIA in Karabakh.Trained, equipped and supported by Turkey as part of the “Syrian National Army” (SNA)Designated as terrorist organization by Russia.Reuters, 09.28.20, RFE/RL, 09.30.20 (also reported by RF government funded Sputnik.)
4Jabhat Fateh al-ShamSunni Jihadist group, previously known as al-Nusra Front Affiliated with al-Qaeda until July 2016.Veysi Dag of University London in Open Democracy, 10.02.20, BBC, 08.01.16, Reuters, 10.06.20 (quoting Russian foreign intelligence chief Naryshkin, who referred to it as al-Nusra)
5Jaysh Al-Islam300, deployed on Oct. 9Islamist group, intent on establishing a Sharia state in SyriaSupported by Saudi Arabia in addition to Turkey.Veysi Dag of University London in Open Democracy, 10.02.20, Guardian, 11.07.13, (also reported by Syrian Observer, 11.07.18. The National, 10.10.20)
6Jaysh al-NasrIslamist group, supported by Turkey.Other info: Partially equipped by U.S.  Veysi Dag of University London in Open Democracy, 10.02.20, Jamestown, 03.02.17, (also reported by  Al Jazeera, 07.18.19)
7Hamza faction of the “Syrian National Army” (SNA)500 individuals, 4 KIA in Karabakh, according to ArmenpressOffered 1,800 a month to its fighters to go fight on Baku’s sideTrained, equipped and supported by Turkey as part of the SNA.As of 2019 headed by suspected former ISIS fighter Ebu Bekir, according to the Intercept.According to the Daily Beast, however, it is headed as of 2020 by Turkman Sayf Balud who has previously appeared in an ISIS propaganda video and who has been described as Sayf Balud as former ISIS commander.Other info: Also trained and equipped by U.S.: Hamza Division was vetted by the Pentagon in 2016 and then armed and trained by the U.S. to battle against ISIS.Daily Beast, 09.28.20, Intercept, 10.26.20, Study of War, 10.09.19, Reuters, 09.29.30.Guardian, 09.30.20, Reuters, 10.06.20 (quoting Russian foreign intelligence chief Naryshkin) Yahoo/France 24, 10.20.20; RFE/RL, citing Lindsey Snell, 10.23.20 (also reported by Seth Frantzman in Jerusalem Post, 10.03.20., National Review,  10.22.20, Novaya Gazeta, 10.26.10., Syrians for Truth and Justice, 10.02.20.)  
8Sultan Murad faction of the “Syrian National Army”500 individualsHeaded by Turkman Fahim Aissa.Paid $500-1200 a monthTrained, equipped and supported by Turkey as part of SNA.Tortured Kurdish POWSEngaged in hostilities in Libya.Had US equipment: Claimed to have been “well stocked” with new supplies of U.S.-made TOW anti-tank missiles.  Out of the 28 factions, which formed SNA, a total of 14 were recipients of the U.S.-supplied  TOW anti-tank guided missiles, according to Turkey’s pro-government SETA think-tank.Also fighting in LibyaDaily Beast, 09.28.20, Reuters, 10.19.15. SETA, October 2019, Independent,  06.16.20, Guardian, 09.28.20, Reuters, 10.06.20 (quoting Russian foreign intelligence chief Naryshkin) (also reported by Jerusalem Post, 10.14.20 Yahoo/France 24, 10.20.20 Le Monde, 10.22.20Seth Frantzman in Jerusalem Post, 10.03.20. Novaya Gazeta, 10.26.10, Morning Star, 10.27.20, Al Monitor, 10.30.20, DC-based Middle East Media Research Institute, 11.09.20, DW, 11.02.20.)  
9Suleyman Shah faction (aka Sliman Shah) of the “Syrian National Army”A total of 1,000 fighters from Suleiman Shah, Sultan Murad,  and Al Hamza factions are participating in fighting in Karabakh, according to Guardian,Turkish-backedTortured Kurdish POWS   Commanded by Muhammad al-Jasem (Abu Amsha) and by (previously) Fehim Isa.   Reported to use child soldiers   Also fighting in Libya   Other info: Also engaged in hostilities in Libya.Fox News, 10.04.20, Independent,  06.16.20, Guardian, 10.02.20. The New York Book Review, 10.16.20 (also reported by Kommersant, 10.16.20, Novaya Gazeta, 10.26.10, Syria Direct, 10.15.20, Elizabeth Tsurkov, 10.15.20, Syrians for Truth and Justice, 10.02.20, DW, 11.02.20, DC-based Middle East Media Research Institute, 11.09.20)    

Table A2: In addition, the following jihadist and other groups have had their members reportedly deployed by Turkey to fight in Karabakh, according to information reported by Armenian, Russian and other countries’ media organizations:

Name of group, whose present and/or past affiliates have been deployed to Azerbaijan to fightNumber of present and/or past affiliates deployed to Azerbaijan to fight/Number of KIAs  Description of the groupSources cited by following organizations:
1Al FurqanN/A from international news organizations, but Armenpress reports at least 32 KIA in Karabakh.If Al Furqan refers to Alwyia Al-Furqan, then it is Sunni Jihadist organization, which pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda.Armenpress, 09.28.20, Aaron Y. Zelin in Jihadology.net, 05.14.13.
2Levant FrontN/A from international news organizations, but Armenpress reports at least 22 KIA in Karabakh and Macron was quoted as saying 300 jihadists from the Aleppo region, where this group is based, have been deployed.Syrian rebel group based around Aleppo.Armenpress, 09.28.20, MiddleEastEye, 09.29.20., Le Figaro,10.02.20, Liberation, 10.02.20.
3Samarkand Brigade400 of its elements to Azerbaijan were sent to Azerbaijan for a monthly salary ranges between 1700 USD and 2000 USD.  MiddleEastEye, 09.29.20, Syrians for Truth and Justice, 10.02.20.also reported by RF-government-funded Sputnik.
4Malik Shah faction Faction of SNA Turkish-backedAsia Times, (Hong Kong-based English language news media publishing group 10.07.20, DC-based Middle East Media Research Institute, 11.09.20  
5The Mu’tasim faction of SNA Offered 1,800 a month to its fighters to go fight on Baku’s sideActive in AleppoAlso fighting in LibyaSeth Frantzman in Jerusalem Post, 10.03.20, citing Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Novaya Gazeta, 10.26.10., Syrians for Truth and Justice, 10.02.20, DW, 11.02.20.  
6Faylaq al-ShamSent 150 individuals according to al Monitor,Syrian Sunni Islamist rebel groupSeth Frantzman in Jerusalem Post, 10.03.20, citing Guardian and Middle East Eye; MiddleEastEye, 09.29.20, Kommersant, 10.16.20, al Monitor, 10.02.20, Syrians for Truth and Justice, 10.02.20.  
7PMC SADAT Participated in recruitment and deployment of 1,300 Syrian mercenaries to fight on Baku’s side against Armenian forces in the Terter area for $1500-2000 a monthParticipated in recruitment and deployment of 300 Libyan mercenaries to fight on Baku’s side against Armenian forces in the Dzhebrail area for $1500-2000 a monthThe first group of these mercenaries arrived in Azerbaijan on Sept. 22 and included members of SNA’s so-called 2nd Corps.Kommersant, 10.16.20.  
7Ajnad al-Kavkaz150Active in in northern Syria, primarily in the mountainous, forested areas of northern Latakia province Arrived in Azerbaijan in JulySyrians for Truth and Justice, 10.02.20.

Table B.1: The following individual members of jihadist and other groups whose members have been reportedly deployed by Turkey to fight in Karabakh, according to information reported by Western media reports and academic sources.

NoName or pseudonym, place of residencePresent or past affiliation with groupDescription of individual and/or group he is affiliated withSources cited by following organizations:
1N/A, northern SyriaAhrar al-ShamThe individual is getting paid for participation in fighting in KarabakhSee Entry No. 1 in Table A.1. above for description of the Ahrar al-Sham group. Reuters, 09.28.20, Stanford;  
2N/A, northern SyriaJaish al-Nukhba (“Elite Army”)The individual is getting paid for participation in fighting in KarabakhSee Entry No. 2 in Table A.1. above for description of the Jaish al-Nukhba group.Reuters, 09.28.20, RFE/RL, 09.30.20
3Kinan FerzatSultan Murad faction of “Syrian National Army”See Entry No. 8 in Table A.1. above for description of the Sultan Murad group.Fox News, 10.04.20. Independent,  06.16.20, The Guardian, 09.28.20. (Also reported by Modern Diplomacy, 10.07.20 and Syria Direct, 01.15.20)
4Omar, IdlibSultan Murad faction of “Syrian National Army”See Entry No. 8 in Table A.1. above for description of the Sultan Murad group.Guardian, 09.28.20.
5Muhammad (pseudonym), city of Azaz located north-northwest of AleppoSultan Murad faction of “Syrian National Army”Muhammad was summoned to a military camp in Afrin on 13 September and   told by a commander in the Turkish-backed Sultan Murad division that work was available guarding observation posts and oil and gas facilities in Azerbaijan on three or six month contracts at 7,000-10,000 Turkish lira (£700-£1,000) a month – significantly more than they could earn at home.See Entry No. 8 in Table A.1. above for description of the Sultan Murad group.Guardian, 09.28.20.
6Mahmoud (pseudonym), AzazSultan Murad faction of “Syrian National Army”See Entry No. 8 in Table A.1. above for description of the group.Guardian, 09.28.20.
7Muhammed Shaalan from the town of Al Atarib, KIAShaalan’s unit in Hamza faction of the “Syrian National Army” (SNA)See Entry No. 9 in Table A.1. above for description of the Hamza group.Guardian, 09.30.20. (Also reported by Modern Diplomacy, 10.07.20)
8Hussein Talha, from Ain Jara village, KIAShaalan’s unit in Hamza faction of SNASee Entry No. 9 in Table A.1. above for description of the Hamza group.Guardian, 09.30.20.
9Sadam Aziz Azkor of the settlement of al Kareem, KIAShaalan’s unit Hamza faction of SNASee Entry No. 9 in Table A.1. above for description of the Hamza group.Guardian, 09.30.20.
10Abu Ahmad, (pseudonym), 26 years oldnorth Syria/described as pro-Turkish, but no affiliation specifiedSays went to fight for $2,000 a monthAFP, 10.03.20.
11Mohammad Shaaban, KIAN/AAFP, 10.03.20.
12Name not specifiedFrom town of Atareb in Aleppo province, serving in an unit commanded by Mohammad Shaaban, described as pro-Turkish, but no affiliation specifiedAFP, 10.03.20.
13Name not specified,Affiliated with one of SNA’s factionsSays went to fight for 1$,500 a month.CNN, 10.01.20
14Mustafa Khalid, 23 years oldFrom Idlib, Sultan Murad faction of “Syrian National Army”See Entry No. 8 in Table A.1. above for description of the Sultan Murad group.Guardian, 10.02.20.
15Mohammed Al-Shuhna, 22, Idlib, From Maarat al-Nouman, Idlib province, KIAAhrar al-ShamPromised between $1,000 and $1200 a monthapproximately 55 dead Syrians who were brought home via the Huwwar Killis border crossing with Turkey over the weekend.See Table A.1. for description of Ahrar al-ShamMSN, 10.08.20, Independent, 10.09.20
Likely same person as No 15Muhammad al-Shuhneh, 25 years old, From Maarat al-Numan, KIA near Barda N/AFP, 10.05.20,
16Mustafa Qanti, 23,Hamza factionVideo recorded near Azeri ammunition depot just south of Horadiz See Table A.1. above for description of the Hamza factionIndependent, 10.09.20  
17Cousin of Abu Mohammed, 37, from Eastern GhoutaN/AIndependent, 10.09.20  
18Kinan Firzat, KIASultan MuradAn ex-Syrian army captain turned rebel battalion commander in the Hamza factio Blown up along with five members of his team during fightingSee Table A.1. above for description of the Sultan Murad factionIndependent, 10.09.20 (also reported by Syrians for Truth and Justice, 10.02.20.)  
19Mahmoud Najjar,38, KIAFrom Aleppo, body shipped back to Syria along with51 other Syrian KIAsPaid $2,000 a month(WP, 10.14.20)
20Mohammed al-Hamza, 26From AleppoSays “Around 250 of us have asked to go home.”Previously ‘did a ‘tour’ in Libya  Guardian, 10.13.20.
21N/A, 38—year oldN/Apromised monthly salary of $1,500.being sent to fight on Azerbaijan’s side  along with other in groups of up to 100 at a time.WSJ, 10.14.20
22N/A, 38N/Apromised monthly salary of $1,500. being sent to fight on Azerbaijan’s side  along with other in groups of up to 100 at a time.WSJ, 10.14.20
23Abdel Basit (name altered by the journalist)From Rastan, HomsAffiliate of the “Syrian National Army”Deployed in the beginning of September Primary motivation is money, individuals like him promised between $600 to $2,500 a month “Nearly killed Oct. 25, with 11 others killed and 40 wounded from same groupThe New York Book Review, 10.16.20; Elizabeth Tsurkov 10.25.20  
24Rustum Sultan Murad faction (see table A.1 for description of this faction)The New York Book Review, 10.16.20  
25Samir SNA affiliatePrimary motivation is moneyThe New York Book Review, 10.16.20  
26From Idlib, POWSultan Muyrad DivisionArmenian media identified him as Youssef El Abdel El Haji, recruited by Abu Ahmad for $2000 a month; moved to Azerbaijan with 500 others; id’d as from Sultan Murad divisionReuters, citing Armenia’s MFA, 11.02.20; (also reported by Elizabeth Tsurkov 11.01.20)
27From Hama, POWSultan Murad DivisionArmenian media identified him as Mehred Mohammad Alsher, said he was promised $2,000, arrived 10.19.20; id’d as from Sultan Murad divisionReuters, citing Armenia’s MFA, 11.02.20; (also reported by Elizabeth Tsurkov 11.01.20)
28Omar al-Jalabi, KIAHamza DivisionCommander of Brigade 80Elizabeth Tsurkov, 11.01.20

Table B2: In addition, following individual members of jihadist and other groups whose members have been reportedly deployed by Turkey to fight in Karabakh,  according to information reported by Armenian, Russian and other countries’ media organizations:

NoName or pseudonym, place of residencePresent or past affiliation with groupDescription of individual and/or group he is affiliated withSources cited by following organizations:
1Khaled Saleh (pseudonym), 25 years old From Aleppo, Syrian National ArmySays he is getting paid $1,500 to fight See Table A.1. for description of SNA  Al Monitor, 10.07.20
2Jasim Himmish (a pseudonym), 35 years oldFrom the city of Baza’a in northeastern Aleppo, Syrian National ArmySee Table A.1  for description of SNAAl Monitor, 10.07.20
3Bilal Hamdan (a pseudonym), 24Idlib, Sultan Murad DivisionSee Table 1 for description of Sultan Murad DivisionAl Monitor, 10.07.20
4Khaled, 20 years old, native of Homs, lived near AleppoMalik Shah faction of SNASaid he was getting paid 1500 a month See Table A.1. for description of Malik Shah factionAsia Times, (Hong Kong-based English language news media publishing group_ 10.07.20  
5Ahmad, 42Sultan Murad faction of SNASaid he was getting paid 1500 a month See Table A.1. for description of Sultan Murad factionAsia Times, 10.07.20.
6Mahmoud, from town of Maaret al-Numaan, KIAHamza faction of SNAMahmoud said they were not getting fed enough and were being mistreated by the Azerbaijani officers since their arrival at the front line.Asia Times, 10.07.20. The National, 10.10.20  
8Mohammad, 19Worked in al-Bab city.His mother says she “has lost touch with her 19-year-old son, Mohammad, who ran away to become a mercenary in Azerbaijan.”Asia Times, 10.07.20.
9Ibrahim, 24, from town of Sarmada atSultan Murad faction of SNAOffered ($1,300 a month Interviewed east of KarabakhThe National, 10.10.20  
10Adham (pseudonym) from north Aleppo village of Kafr JannahN/ASyria Direct, 10.12.20
11Muhammad Abdul Razzaq, 45, from Aleppo, KIA in September 2020From Sultan Murad faction of SNASyria Direct, 10.12.20, Syrians for Truth and Justice, 10.02.20.
12A-Shahna, 26, from Maarat al-Numan (also identified as Muhammad Khaled al- Shihnah), KIAN/ASyria Direct, 10.12.20, Syrians for Truth and Justice, 10.02.20.
13Adel al-Shaher, KIACommander with Hamza faction of SNA Islamic World News, 10.27.20, Mir Novostei, 10.29,.29
14Mahmoud al-Najjar., KIAThe Mu’tasim faction of SNA Syrians for Truth and Justice, 10.02.20.
15Abd al-Hanan Abd al-Razzaq, KIAThe Mu’tasim faction of SNA Syrians for Truth and Justice, 10.02.20.
116Bilal al-Taybani, KIAthe 112th “Division” Syrians for Truth and Justice, 10.02.20.
17Walid al-Ashtar, KIAFaylaq al-Sham Syrians for Truth and Justice, 10.02.20.
19Abu Jassem Al-Zaghloul, KIASultan Murad faction of SNA Syrians for Truth and Justice, 10.02.20.
20Saddam Droubi, KIAHamza faction Syrians for Truth and Justice, 10.02.20.
21Muhammad al-Sha’alan,  KIACommander in Hamza faction Syrians for Truth and Justice, 10.02.20.
22Hussein Talha, KIAEscort guard of Muhammad al-Sha’alan Syrians for Truth and Justice, 10.02.20.
23Yusuf Alaabet al-Hajji, POW. From Ziyadiya village in the Jisr al-Shughur region of Idlib province of Syria.Recruited by Abu Hamsha, commander in commander of the Suleyman Shah faction of SNA Asbarez, 11.04.20.
24Mehrab Muhammad al-Shkheir. POWRecruited by Abu Hamsha, commander in commander of the Suleyman Shah faction of SNA Asbarez, 11.04.20.

Table C.1 Evidence of Turkey’s direct support for the Azerbaijani offensive against Karabakh in international media that  I found in mainstream internationally recognized English-language news and/or analytical sources.  

July 2020 –  OctoberAt least 2 F-16 Turkish air force warplanesat Ganja International Airport in Azerbaijan Deployed on July 31, 2020, still there at on Oct. 7RFE/RL, 10.09.20, Drive, 10.07.20, Defense Blog, 07.31.20,
Duration of Karabakh warNot only did Turkey wage the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through drones, military advisors, special forces commandos, and imported Syrian mercenaries, but there is also a growing body of evidence to suggest that Ankara played an outsized role in Baku’s decision to launch the September offensive. A panoply of high-ranked Turkish officials met with their Azerbaijani counterparts throughout the summer to discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh problem, and Turkish arms sales to Baku exploded in the months leading up to the September offensive.  National Interest, 11.18.20.

Table C.2 Evidence of Turkey’s direct support for the Azerbaijani offensive against Karabakh in regional media sources

DateDetailsSource
July-August 2020600 Turkish armed forces servicemen were were deployed to Azerbaijan to participate in wargames in July-August and stayed on to provide support for the Azerbaijani offensive.  These included 600 servicemen in a dedicated battalion-level tactical group, 50 instructors in Nakhichevan, 90 military advisers in Baku (to serve as liaison in the conduct of hostilities in the command chain of  brigade-corps-general staff);120-strong flight personnel at the Gabala airbase; 20 drone operators at the Dallar airfield, 50 instructors at the Yevlakh airfield, 50 instructors in the 4th Army Corps (Pirekeshkul)  20 servicemen at the naval base and at the Heydar Aliyev military school in Baku.  Kommersant, 10.16.20.  
September 28-30, 2020Turkey’s defense minister Hulusi Akar (educated in  Queen’s University Belfast and served as staff officer in NATO’s Allied Forces Southern Europe) and commander of the Turkish ground forces General Ümit Dündar (educated at Royal Army Staff College in UK) were in Azerbaijan on Sept,. 28-30 to exercise general command of the combat operations agains Karabakh.   General Bakhtiyar Esray (spelling not clear, in Russian Бахтияр Эрсай) was in Baky, supervising the Azerbaijani general staff, according to an Azeri official close to the Azeri MoD, citied by Vzglyad.Kommersant, 10.16.20, Vzglyad, 11.12.20
September 30, 2020Medicines and small arms were delivered from Turkey to Azerbaijan in CN-235 planes along the route Etimesgut (Ankara) -Nasosnaya (Haji-Zeynalabdin).  Kommersant, 10.16.20.  
October 7, 2020The delivery of personnel and ammunition was then carried out on October 7 by a C-130 Turkish Air Force plane (flight TUAF737).  Kommersant, 10.16.20.  
October 9, 2020On October 9, Azerbaijani military transport aircraft Il-76TD (flight AZAF002) flew over Georgia to deliver  200 machine guns with ammunition.  Kommersant, 10.16.20.  
October 14, 2020Turkey had requested air transit over Georgia for flights on October 14, 21 and 28 and Georgian granted those requestsKommersant, 10.16.20.
Since July 2020 and in duration of Karabakh warAzerbaijan’s Bayraktar TB2 drone strikes against Armenian and separatist targets were coordinated by a Turkish major-general who has been in Baku since at least July. Vzglyad identified him as – генерал-майор, начальник 1-го Центра снабжения и технического обслуживания ВВС Турции Гексель Кахья.Vzglyad, 11.12.20, National Interest, 11.18.20.

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