Following the bombing of the Azerbaijani army in the troubled Nagorno-Karabakh region, the Armenian government has declared martial law and announced a general mobilization. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that on Sunday afternoon.
All adults are called to arm, Nagorno-Karabakh President Araik Harutjunjan had said earlier at an emergency meeting of the regional parliament. Meanwhile, Russia called for an immediate ceasefire in the region.
The Azerbaijani government army and pro-Armenian rebels are engaged in fierce fighting in the troubled Nagorno-Karabakh region. The Azerbaijani army suffered “heavy losses,” the rebels reported Sunday morning.
The Armenian Ministry of Defense, which supports the rebels, reported the shooting down of two Azerbaijani military helicopters and three drones. The rebels said the Azerbaijani army bombed the Nagorno-Karabakh region, largely inhabited by Armenians, early Sunday morning.
The capital Stepanakert had been shot at, people had to get to safety, authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh announced on Sunday. Numerous houses in villages have been destroyed. There would also be injuries.
Armenia and Azerbaijan blame each other
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said the military had launched a “counter-offensive” to “stop Armenia’s military activities and protect the security of the people.” The ministry spoke of a downed helicopter.
Both sides blamed each other for the fighting. The shelling began early in the morning from the Azerbaijani side, Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan wrote on Facebook. “Full responsibility for this rests with the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan,” said the spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defense of Armenia.
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Yerevan therefore used helicopters and combat drones. Three enemy tanks were hit. There were reports that a state of emergency had been imposed.
The two Caucasus states of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been in conflict over control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region for nearly 30 years. Mainly inhabited by Armenians, Nagorno-Karabakh was added to Azerbaijan during Soviet times. Pro-Armenian rebels took control of the area after fighting with about 30,000 dead in the early 1990s.
Nagorno-Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan under international law
In 1991 Nagorno-Karabakh declared its independence; internationally, however, the area is still not recognized as an independent state. Azerbaijan wants to bring the region back under full control, if necessary by force. Under international law, the region belongs to the Islamic Azerbaijan.
A ceasefire has existed in the region since 1994, but this has been broken several times. In July there was fierce fighting on the border between the warring republics; however, the fighting was hundreds of miles north of Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia relies on Russia as a protective force, which has thousands of soldiers and weapons stationed there.
In recent weeks, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan has flared up again. Both sides accused each other of attacking villages in the border area. The last time there was fierce fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh was in April 2016. More than a hundred people died. In 2010, the last major initiative for peace between Yerevan and Baku to date failed. (AFP)