On Sunday, September 27, Armenian and Azerbaijani forces clashed. The fighting broke out as the result of a dispute over a region known as Nagorno-Karabakh. This region is within Azerbaijan yet is comprised of mostly Armenians. It is located about 30 miles from the Armenian border and is surrounded by a demilitarized zone.
Nagorno-Karabakh was declared independent from Azerbaijan back in 1991, although it is internationally still recognized as being a part of Azerbaijan. There have been ongoing conflicts and disputes about the true borders of the region ever since.
According to a Fox News article, the primary instigator of this latest clash is unclear. Both sides are blaming the other for the escalation of force. Armenia is saying that Azerbaijan launched an attack, while Azerbaijan claims that Armenian forces had shelled them and therefore they were forced to react.
The Armenian Defense Industry reported that at 8:10 a.m., local time, Azerbaijan conducted air and artillery attacks on civilian locations, including Stepanakert, the capital of the region.
Armenia has declared martial law and the complete mobilization of the military. Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, said in a statement, “Prepare to defend our sacred homeland.” He went on to say that, “We stay strong next to our army to protect our motherland from Azeri invasion.”
In retaliation to the supposed attacks, Armenian forces have reportedly shot down four Azerbaijani helicopters and destroyed 10 tanks and 16 drones.
Commenting on the escalation of force, Armenia’s defense ministry said that, “Our response will be proportionate, and the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan bears full responsibility for the situation.”
In response, Azerbaijan classified the Armenian statements as false and reported to Reuters that they have “complete advantage over the enemy on the front.” The government of Azerbaijan stands by the notion that Armenian forces waged a “deliberate and targeted” attack that required Azerbaijan to respond.
During a televised address, Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, stated that, “There are losses among the Azerbaijani forces and the civilian population as a result of the Armenian bombardment.” Aliyev went on to say “We defend our territory, our cause is right!”
The Azerbaijani government has denied that it has lost helicopters and tanks.
There are confirmed casualties on both sides. Armenian activists reported to Reuters that a woman and child had been killed by Azerbaijani artillery. Azerbaijan’s defense ministry stated there were civilian deaths and at least six wounded. In Nagorno-Karabakh, 10 military personnel were killed.
Being a strong ally of Azerbaijan, Turkey was quick to denounce Armenia. Omer Celik, a spokesman for Turkey’s ruling party, tweeted, “We vehemently condemn Armenia’s attack on Azerbaijan. Armenia has once against committed a provocation, ignoring law. Armenia is playing with fire and endangering regional peace.”
According to a BBC report, Russia’s Foreign Ministry has pressed for a ceasefire and for talks to commence in order for peace in the region to be maintained.