Clashes reported between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Image Credit: Vahram Baghdasyran/Photolure/EPA
Early on Sunday, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported that it launched a counteroffensive against Armenia, in response to its earlier attacks against the Azerbaijani military.The Azerbaijani military said that Armenia downed an Azerbaijani military helicopter, but luckily the crew survived. The military operation was launched along the contact line which separates Armenia supported backed military forces from Azerbaijan troops. The Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan posted a Facebook post where he mentioned the attack, ‘The enemy has started an attack on Artsakh.’ He further added that the Nagorno-Karabakh military managed to repel the attack successfully. Leaders of the Nagorno-Karabkh region said that the city of Stepanakert, a city of around 55,000 people has been targeted by the Azerbaijan artillery, and urged the population to take cover.
Both countries have been in conflict since independence from the Soviet Union. Most of their dispute stems from the Nagorno-Karabakh region, a region occupied by Armenian backed forces, but is inside Azerbaijan territory. Recently, border clashes between the two countries escalated. Ethnic Armenians living in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region declared independence from Azerbaijan, soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union, after a conflict between both countries. In 1994 a ceasefire was signed by both countries, but border clashes were still reported, and both countries blamed each other for the attacks.
Turkey, a close ally of Azerbaijan, condemned the Armenian attacks, and Turkey’s spokesperson, Ibrahim Kalin tweeted ‘We condemn Armenia’s attacks against civilians. turkey stands by Azerbaijan in the face of such attacks.’ He added that ‘Armenia has violated the ceasefire and showed that it is against peace and stability. The international community should immediately say ‘no’ to this dangerous provocation. We wish Allah’s mercy upon the victims. Azerbaijan is not alone, it has Turkey’s full backing.’
Hikmet Hajiyev, an aide to Azerbaijan President Ilham Alijev released a statement later on Sunday,
‘The bombardment of densely populated civilian areas and installations situated along the front line by Armenia’s armed forces has been deliberate and targeted. There are reports of dead and wounded among civilians and military servicemen. Extensive damage has been inflicted on many homes and civilian infrastructure.’
Casualties were reported on both sides. Armenia army said that Azerbaijan had much more casualties, which were the result of destroying two helicopters, three tanks and three drones. Azerbaijan said that they suffered a helicopter loss, but its crew survived. Civilian casualties were also reported but Azerbaijan said that they managed to destroy 12 Armenian air defense systems.