September 22, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Azerbaijan began military operations in Nagorno-Karabakh (video)

The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense announced the start of an “anti-terrorist” operation in areas of the Nagorno-Karabakh region under the control of ethnic Armenians. In anticipation of this operation, Azerbaijan has increased its military buildup around Nagorno-Karabakh. Tensions have been high in the South Caucasus for several months.

Air raid sirens and mortar fire can be heard in the main city of Karabakh. BBC publication reportsthat eleven Azerbaijani police and civilians were killed in a mine explosion and another incident.

Representatives of the Ministry of Defense of the separatist region said that the Azerbaijani military “violated the ceasefire along the entire line of contact with missile and artillery strikes.” Other Karabakh representatives spoke of a “large-scale military offensive.”

Azerbaijan and Armenia have already fought twice over Nagorno-Karabakh: in the early 1990s after the collapse of the USSR, and again in 2020. Three years ago, Azerbaijan returned territories in and around Karabakh that had belonged to Armenia since 1994. Since December, Azerbaijan has established an effective blockade of the only route into the enclave from Armenia, the Lachin corridor.

On Tuesday, the Defense Ministry in Baku accused Armenian forces of “systematic shelling” of its army positions and said it had responded by launching “local anti-terrorism measures… with the aim of disarmament and ensuring the withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from our territories.” It insisted it did not target civilians or civilian buildings and that “precision-guided weapons only disable legitimate military targets.”

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, in a televised address, rejected claims that his military was involved and accused Azerbaijan of launching a “ground operation aimed at ethnic cleansing of Karabakh Armenians,” the BBC quoted.

The sounds of artillery fire were heard on Tuesday from the capital of the Karabakh region, Khankendi (Stepanakert). The mountainous enclave is estimated to be home to approximately 120,000 ethnic Armenians.

Journalist Siranush Sargsyan wrote that residential areas of the city were damaged, including the house next door to hers. Karabakh’s human rights ombudsman said two civilians, including a child, were killed and several other children were among the wounded. Officials in Armenia say the situation on the country’s own borders was “relatively stable” as of 2 p.m. local time.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was warned of Azerbaijan’s advance with just minutes and called on both countries to respect a ceasefire agreement signed after the war in 2020. Regional Special Representative EU Toivo Klaar said there was an “urgent need for an immediate ceasefire.”

Yerevan called Azerbaijan’s actions “large-scale aggression” and called The UN Security Council and Russian peacekeepers take measures to stop hostilities by Azerbaijan. Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan convened the Security Council of the republic.

Source link