Azerbaijan has begun focusing on Armenian navy positions within the Nagorno-Karabakh area, in what it’s calling an “anti-terrorist operation”.
There are fears the motion may result in a brand new battle within the territory, which is internationally recognised as Azerbaijani.
A part of it, nonetheless, is run by breakaway ethnic Armenian authorities who say it’s their ancestral homeland.
It has been the main focus of two wars because the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the most recent of which concerned six weeks of heavy fighting in 2020.
Azerbaijan’s defence ministry mentioned it had begun its operation hours after 4 troopers and two civilians died in landmine explosions in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The ministry mentioned positions “on the entrance line” and Armenian “long-term firing factors” – in addition to fight belongings and navy services – had been “incapacitated utilizing high-precision weapons”.
“Solely authentic navy targets are being incapacitated,” it added.
Armenia has mentioned its forces aren’t in Karabakh and describes the scenario on its border with Azerbaijan as secure.
Loud and repeated shelling was audible on social media footage filmed in Stepanakert, the regional capital of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Ethnic Armenian officers mentioned Stepanakert and a few villages had been “underneath intense shelling”.
The Karabakh separatist human rights ombudsman, Gegham Stepanyan, mentioned the civilian inhabitants had suffered “a number of casualties” following strikes by the Azerbaijani navy.
Simply two days in the past, Armenia’s prime minister mentioned his nation and Azerbaijan may attain a peace deal over Nagorno-Karabakh by the end of this year.
Armenia is looking on the UN Safety Council to assist and for Russian peacekeepers to intervene.
Russia, which brokered a fragile ceasefire following the battle in 2020, has referred to as for all sides to cease combating.
Armenia has accused Moscow of being too distracted by the battle in Ukraine.
‘Russia seems to have failed in its duties’ – evaluation
Diana Magnay, Moscow correspondent
Azerbaijan’s supposed “anti-terror operation” represents a significant escalation and will spark a 3rd battle between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Regardless of Azerbaijan’s claims it’s focusing on navy positions solely, the Armenian administration in Nagorno-Karabakh has already launched photos of civilian casualties, together with kids, whereas the primary few movies exhibiting harm to civilian infrastructure within the regional capital of Stepanakert are starting to trickle by.
The ethnic Armenian inhabitants in Nagorno-Karabakh has been starved of meals and humanitarian provides for 9 months now, because the Azerbaijani authorities blocked the so-called Lachin hall from Armenia by to Stepanakert which they’re obliged to maintain open underneath worldwide regulation.
The Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh have cried genocide, saying Azerbaijan is making an attempt to starve them out of the area the place they’ve lived for hundreds of years.
Now the Azeris say they’ve opened humanitarian corridors through Lachin and elsewhere to allow Armenian civilians to flee their navy operation.
If Armenians do go away, the proof shall be whether or not they’re ever allowed again to their properties. If not, that’s certainly ethnic cleaning.
Russia, in the meantime, supposedly in command of preserving the peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan because the final quick and harsh battle in 2020, seems to have failed in its duties, too preoccupied with the battle in Ukraine to interact absolutely with its regional obligations.
Russia’s overseas ministry mentioned it was given solely minutes’ warning earlier than Azerbaijan launched its offensive.
The most recent tweet from a neighborhood journalist in Stepanakert makes for sorry studying: “I’m charging my telephone on the Republic Hospital in Stepanakert,” writes Marut Vanyan.
“Continuous artillery shells are being heard. Physician simply handed by with bloody palms.”