A number of ethnic Yazidis fighting for Armenia against Azerbaijan in their newly reignited conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region have been wounded in battle, an Armenian member of parliament said on Tuesday.
“Many Yazidis are wounded in this battle,” Rostam Bakoyana, a Yazidi member of Armenia’s parliament, told Kurdish news agency Rudaw via Skype. He spoke from the Armenian capital, Yerevan.
“There are no deaths among the Yazidi fighters,” Bakoyan added. He indicated that the injuries of most wounded Yazidis were not serious, saying that they remain “in good health condition.”
Clashes broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan on Sunday in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Both countries accused the other of initiating the attacks. The conflict entered its fifth day on Thursday, with both sides accusing the other of firing directly into their territory, well beyond the boundaries of Nagorno-Karabakh. The region belongs legally to Azerbaijan but is comprised of a majority Armenian population. After the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, ethnic Armenian separatists seized Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan in a war that killed at least 30,000 people. An uneasy truce ended the war in 1994, though sporadic clashes have continued between Muslim Azerbaijan and Christian Armenia in the years since then.
The fighting this week has already escalated into the most significant clashes between the two sides since the 1994 ceasefire. Both sides have deployed heavy artillery to Nagorno-Karabakh. Dozens have been reported killed so far, including civilians, while hundreds have been reported wounded. The leaders of both countries have flatly rejected the prospect of peace talks.
Bakoyan on Tuesday said Armenia did not initiate the clashes with Azerbaijan. He accused Baku’s ally, Turkey, of sending Syrian opposition fighters from northern Syria to fight for Azerbaijan in the escalating conflict.
“Turkey is backing Azerbaijan by sending in terrorists of opposition from Syria and Turkish soldiers to join the Azerbaijan forces,” Bakoyan said. He claimed that the Armenian government has evidence of this in the form of video footage and photographs.
Bakoyan further claimed that based on Armenian intelligence, “each Syrian opposition fighter is being paid $1,500 a month” to fight for Azerbaijan.
Armenia is home to an estimated 35,000-50,000 ethnic Yazidis, according to Al Jazeera. ISIS forces swept through the Yazidi homeland of Sinjar, located in northern Iraq, in 2014, violently attacking the population and killing or kidnapping roughly 10,000 Yazidis.