Azerbaijan launches new military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh | News | ET REALITY

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HISTORY IN DEVELOPMENT,

As tensions with Yerevan rise, the Defense Ministry says targets are Armenian firing points, combat assets and military facilities.

Azerbaijan has launched what it called “counterterrorism activities” in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, its Defense Ministry said, emphasizing that the offensive would only target military structures.

“Local anti-terrorist activities carried out by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan continue,” a statement from the Ministry of Defense reads. statement published on Tuesday.

“As part of the activities, only legitimate military installations and infrastructure are attacked and incapacitated using high-precision weapons,” it said, adding that it has created humanitarian corridors to allow the evacuation of civilians.

Armenia’s Foreign Ministry called on Russian peacekeeping troops in the region to intervene and stop what it said was Azerbaijan’s “large-scale aggression” against the local population.

A journalist from the AFP news agency said explosions were heard in the region’s de facto capital, known as Stepanakert to Armenians and Khankendi to Azerbaijanis.

Armenia said it had no military personnel or equipment in Karabakh, according to its Defense Ministry.

The region has long been at the center of tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia, leading to two wars for its control. Today, the region is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but is largely populated by ethnic Armenians.

INTERACTIVE_AZARBAIJAN-ARMENIA-1695122771 Nagorno Karabakh
(Al Jazeera)

The statement announcing the offensive came a few hours after Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry said at least six people were killed in two separate accidents in the Azeri district of Khojavend, allegedly due to landmines planted by Armenian security forces. .

Meanwhile, Russia expressed its deep alarm “over the strong escalation” in the disputed region, TASS media reported, citing Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova. She said Azerbaijan had warned Russian peacekeepers in the region about military action just minutes before launching it.

United Nations spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric also expressed concern about the current situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“It is very important that all activities cease and that both sides return to sustained dialogue to avoid further clashes,” he told Al Jazeera.

Decades of tension

The last large-scale conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh erupted in 2020 and lasted six weeks before a Russian-brokered truce. The ceasefire saw Armenia give up swaths of territory it had controlled since the 1990s.

Since then, both sides have been unable to reach a lasting peace agreement despite mediation efforts by the European Union, Russia and the United States.

Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of causing a months-long humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh after Baku last year blocked the only highway linking the mountainous region to Armenia. It is called the Lachin Corridor and Russian peacekeepers guard it.

On Monday, trucks loaded with humanitarian aid entered Nagorno-Karabakh after Armenian separatists and the central government agreed to use roads connecting it with Armenia and Azerbaijan, according to Baku.

Al Jazeera’s Robin Forestier-Walker, who has covered events in Nagorno-Karabakh extensively, said there was a “great fear” that this could be another full-scale war between the two countries.

Forestier-Walker said reports from inside the region spoke of “large-scale attacks in the form of possible rocket attacks and shelling,” while the sound of small arms fire could be heard in videos posted on social media.

Forestier-Walker said the situation has been “terrible” for the people of Nagorno-Kabarakh for months.

“They have been cut off from the main roads supplying Karabakh from Armenia,” he added.

“Things have been changing recently. Azerbaijani authorities were able to bring some aid to Karabakh from the Azeri side under control, but were still pressing for access to Karabakh from Armenia because Azeri authorities have long claimed that this route is used for smuggling. weapons and mines in the territory that is still under ethnic Armenian control.”

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