In the worst fighting for decades, more than 100 people on the Armenian side alone have been killed in the troubled Nagorno-Karabakh region. The total number of deaths since Sunday rose to 114 in Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday, including dozens of soldiers and many civilians, Armenian authorities said.
The exact number of victims from Azerbaijan was initially unknown. But ten civilians had died, it was said from the capital Baku. The bloody fighting caused international concern. Chancellor Angela Merkel also called on the parties to the conflict to end the fighting.
Fighting in the South Caucasus has been going on since Sunday. Azerbaijan continued its military offensive on Tuesday morning. The troops moved into the city of Fusuli and destroyed four Armenian tanks, the Ministry of Defense announced. In the town of Gadrut, an elderly woman has been killed in an Azerbaijani drone strike in a house courtyard, authorities there said. Three residents were injured.
According to information from Yerevan, there was also artillery fire on Armenian territory and a Sukhoi-25 fighter jet was shot down. The pilot was killed, it said. Armenia claimed that a Turkish F-16 fighter jet shot down the machine with the help of Azerbaijan. However, there was no confirmation, Azerbaijan and Turkey firmly rejected the allegations. Baku had previously accused the neighbor of using weapons on its territory.
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It’s the toughest fights in years. The last time there was a similarly tough battle in 2016, around 120 people died. Now both countries have declared war. The armed forces of the oil-rich Republic of Azerbaijan are many times superior to those of the poor country of Armenia.
Azerbaijan said it had already retaken seven villages in Nagorno-Karabakh on Sunday. According to military reports, Azerbaijani forces also occupied strategically important heights in the mountain region. Fighters from Nagorno-Karabakh tried in vain to regain control of the positions.
Video 28/09/2020, 11:02 01:37, many dead in the fighting around Nagorno-Karabakh
In the decades-old conflict, the two countries fight over the Armenian-controlled Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is part of the Islamic region of Azerbaijan under international law. Azerbaijan lost control of the area in a war that left more than 30,000 dead after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is now inhabited by Christian Karabakh Armenians.
Armenia relies on Russia as a protective force, which has thousands of soldiers and many weapons stationed there. Azerbaijan, rich in oil and gas and armed with military equipment, has Turkey as its ally.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev accused the international community of being “too patient” with Armenia. Armenia has not responded to United Nations resolutions to withdraw from the occupied territory of Azerbaijan for thirty years, he said.
Erdogan: Turkey by all means and with all my heart ”on the side of Azerbaijan
Turkey had already clearly supported Azerbaijan and blamed Armenia for the escalation. Turkey is on the side of Azerbaijan “by all means and with all its heart,” emphasized President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, “As Turkey, all our efforts and efforts will result in the fraternization of Azerbaijan, retaking its occupied territories and protecting its rights on international territory.”
Russia criticized Turkey’s behavior. The Kremlin called on Ankara to take action against Azerbaijan and move the country to a ceasefire and negotiations. Previous statements of support from the Turkish side for Azerbaijan had only added fuel to the fire, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said.
[Moskau wird nicht mehr als Ordnungsmacht im Kaukasus wahrgenommen – Lesen Sie hier einen Kommentar zu den Kämpfen zwischen Armenien und Aserbaidschan]
President Vladimir Putin stressed after the Kremlin during a telephone conversation with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan that both sides must urgently stop the fire and take measures to de-escalate the crisis. He was deeply concerned about the ongoing fighting, he said.
Merkel: Truce is urgent
Chancellor Merkel also spoke with Pashinyan and Aliyev. The Chancellor made it clear that a ceasefire and negotiations were urgent, said government spokesman Steffen Seibert. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) could be the basis for this.
Diplomats from the 57 OSCE member states wanted to gather in Vienna on Tuesday afternoon for a meeting on the situation, as announced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the OSCE Presidency Albania. The OSCE special envoy to the conflict, Polish diplomat Andrzej Kasprzyk, was said to report on the state of affairs there.
Armenian soldiers at a post on the Nagorno-Karabakh border (archive photo) Photo: Reuters / Staff
UN Secretary-General António Guterres also spoke to both sides, calling on them to end the fighting immediately. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, also stressed that she viewed the conflict with concern. “I am very concerned about the reported deaths and injuries and damage to property and infrastructure.” She called on all involved in the conflict to comply with international humanitarian law, which requires the protection of civilians.
Several members of the UN Security Council requested that the issue be put on the agenda on Tuesday. The initiative for this would come from Germany and France. (dpa)