In what it described as a humanitarian mission requested by the Syrian government, Armenia sent 83 medics, demining experts and other military personnel to Syria on Friday.
The Armenian Defense Ministry said they were deployed in and around the war-torn city of Aleppo to help civilians and clear landmines left behind from the continuing bloody conflict in the Arab state. It stressed that these “humanitarian activities” will be carried out only in areas that are “free from hostilities.”
In a statement, the ministry also said that the servicemen were transported to Syria and will serve there “with the assistance of the Russian side.”
Armenia’s plans for such a deployment in Syria were first announced by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian in September following his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin held in Moscow.
John Bolton, U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, discussed the issue with Pashinian and Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan when he visited Yerevan in October. Bolton warned them against sending combat troops to aid Syrian government forces or their allies.
“The prime minister said this was not going to be military assistance, it would be purely humanitarian,” Bolton said after the talks. “I think that’s important.”