Azerbaijan Jails Two for Fighting with IS Militants
Azerbaijan on Tuesday sentenced two men to 14 years in jail for fighting alongside Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, authorities in the ex-Soviet republic said.
The energy-rich Caucasus nation's security ministry "arrested the two Azerbaijani nationals in April over fighting in Syria and Iraq," a Baku court spokesman told AFP.
The two men "fought within the ranks of IS from 2014 to 2015 in Syria and Iraq," the spokesman said.
Fighting in foreign wars is a criminal offense in the predominantly Muslim but secular country.
Local media had previously reported numerous cases of Azerbaijani citizens fighting for jihadists in Syria and Iraq, including within the Jaish al-Muhajireen wal Ansar group consisting mostly of Islamists from the former Soviet Union.
The Jaish al-Muhajireen wal Ansar in September declared allegiance to al-Qaida's affiliate in Syria, Al-Nusra.
Since September 2014, Azerbaijan has reportedly arrested at least 38 men for fighting alongside the IS group, which has seized large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq.
In July and August, Azerbaijan sentenced 13 men to up to 15 years in prison for fighting in Syria alongside IS.
Around 25,000 foreign fighters from over 100 countries are involved in armed conflicts worldwide, with the highest numbers in Syria, Iraq and increasingly Libya, according to a United Nations report published this year.