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Turkey is blocking the UN visit to dissemble the use of mercenaries in armed conflicts

According to exiled Turkish journalist Abdullah Bozkurt, Turkey has refused to allow a visit by the UN inspector team investigating the use of mercenaries since November 2015, when the international body initially requested to visit the country on a fact-finding mission.

Behind Turkey's prolonged non-response to the UN request is the concern of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government over the revelation of Turkey's involvement in the use of mercenary militant groups to intervene in conflicts beyond its borders, reported

The UN inspectors' interest in visiting Turkey arose from credible reports that Erdogan's government is using increased use of mercenaries and foreign fighters in Syria, Libya and Azerbaijan.


In recent years, the UN has sent numerous inquiries to Turkey seeking additional information on the Erdogan government's involvement in the recruitment, financing, transportation and deployment of foreign fighters in Libya and Azerbaijan.

In a letter addressed to Turkey on 6 November 2020, the UN stated that it had received information indicating Turkey's involvement in recruitment through armed groups mainly linked to the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA). These individuals were recruited for deployment to Azerbaijan to support military operations in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone. The fighters were reportedly promised a monthly salary of up to $2,500 along with additional compensation, including Turkish citizenship for their family members in the event of death.

According to the letter, during the period between September 20 and 25, 2020, an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 militants were deployed in Azerbaijan. The Armenian government submitted a detailed report, presenting evidence of mercenaries in Nagorno-Karabakh supporting Azerbaijan's military offensive.

The UN stressed that it is "seriously concerned about the recruitment and transfer of fighters from Syria to Azerbaijan", noting that such actions are contrary to international humanitarian and human rights law. "We are concerned that those deployed in Azerbaijan are linked to armed groups and individuals who, in some cases, have been accused of war crimes and serious human rights violations during the conflict in Syria, thus perpetuating a cycle of impunity and risking further abuses of international law," the letter said.

Turkey responded to the UN letter, saying all the allegations were false news, fabrications or black propaganda.

The UN highlighted a similar practice by Turkey in deploying Syrian fighters in Libya in a letter sent on June 10, 2020. The letter stated that in December 2019, Turkish authorities arranged meetings with SNA-affiliated armed factions to deploy their fighters to Tripoli in support of the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA). The fighters were promised up to $200 as a monthly stipend and SADAT is believed to have been involved in the selection of the fighters.

Some of these recruited mercenary groups have allegedly committed war crimes and serious human rights violations, including the recruitment of children in areas controlled by the mercenary groups.

Until Erdogan came to power in November 2002, the country had limited military engagements beyond its borders. The arming of mercenary groups to advance Turkish interests was seen in northern Iraq, where the Turkish military had been engaged in a decades-long conflict against the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) since the early 1980s. Similar cases occurred in northern Cyprus, where Turkish Cypriot militias were trained and armed by Turkey against Greek Cypriots in the 1960s and 1970s, and to a limited extent in Bosnia during the Bosnian War in the 1990s.

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