To my knowledge this is 1st published i/v with someone there. Mustafa, 23, previously fought the Syrian regime, Iran and Isis in Ahrar al Sham. He has been part of al Hamza in the 🇹🇷-backed SNA since 2017 in ops against Isis + SDF. Earlier this year he did 4 month stint in Libya
In Libya he was part of personal guard of a high ranking commander + saw no front line action. He was under the impression NKR would be a similiar mission and easy money. Instead his unit has faced sustained artillery fire since Sunday.
Macron today accused 🇹🇷 of sending 300 "jihadists" to Azerbaijan. Number is wrong, and truth more complicated - Turkish govt maintains plausible deniability since Syrians sign up with private security firms. They're also not "jihadists", who would refuse to do this work
Overwhelming motivation for men going to Azerbaijan (and Libya) is money. Conditions in the last pocket of Syria outside regime control are desparate. Mustafa: “I came here to make money and have a better life back in Syria. I consider this a job, nothing else.”
I was extremely sceptical when I first heard about Syrians deploying to NKR. As many point out, AZ army doesn't need the help the way GNA in Libya does.

But Flight Radar data, geo-located pics he sent + location pins all check out. Besides, template was established in Libya.
Turkey is flexing its muscle on the international stage in several theatres now - Syria, Libya, N Iraq, East Med, and now NKR.

Syrian proxies are a way to do that without risking lives of Turkish troops or domestic political blowback. Kinda like Russian Wagner? Budget Wagner?
AZ offensive appears to be timed before potential change of admin in US. Syrians were signed up 4-6 weeks before clashes started on Sunday.

Situation in NKR looks bad but most experts we've spoken to don't neccessarily think it will spill over or trigger a Russian response.
Also hope this new theatre won't have ripple effects for Libya, where all sides are invested in current talks to turn the oil back on. Syria is another matter. We could see increase in military activity in Idlib - where yet again, Syrian civilians would end up paying the price.
You can follow @mck_beth.
Tip: mention @twtextapp on a Twitter thread with the keyword “unroll” to get a link to it.

Latest Threads Unrolled: