Azerbaijan Launches ‘Anti-Terrorist’ Operation in Nagorno-Karabakh
Azerbaijan declared on Tuesday the commencement of an “anti-terrorist operation” in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region, reigniting historical tensions with neighbouring Armenia.
Utilizing state-of-the-art weaponry along the front lines and in the depth of the region, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry emphasized the operation’s localized focus. Its primary objective is to quell significant provocations and dislodge what it alleges are Armenian forces.
To safeguard civilians, authorities urged them to steer clear of military installations, reaching out to Armenian residents through a combination of text messages, loudspeakers, and informational pamphlets.
Additionally, humanitarian corridors and reception points, including the vital Lachin road, were established to facilitate the evacuation of those in peril.
Earlier in the day, Azerbaijan reported six casualties, comprising four soldiers and two civilian road workers, in landmine explosions within Nagorno-Karabakh. The blame was placed on “unlawful Armenian armed factions.”
Nagorno-Karabakh, home to a significant ethnic Armenian populace, has been under partial control of Baku since the conflict in 2020.
Regional influencer Russia has called for an end to the “bloodshed” and appealed to both Armenia and Azerbaijan to uphold existing cease-fire agreements.
The Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, emphasized the imperative of adhering to established resolutions and de-escalating the situation.
Since brokering a cease-fire in 2020, Russia and Turkey have overseen a delicate peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Moscow’s traditional role as Armenia’s protectorate is shifting, while Ankara, linked by linguistic and cultural ties, supports Azerbaijan.
A separatist organization based in Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of launching an extensive military offensive, reporting intensive shelling in the regional stronghold of Stepanakert.
Independent sources corroborated these claims, attesting to rocket and artillery bombardment along the entire frontline surrounding the mountain enclave.
In direct contradiction, Armenia’s Defense Ministry asserted that its border with Azerbaijan remained stable.
It vehemently denied any military presence or equipment in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, where Azerbaijan initiated what it terms “anti-terrorist” measures.
In a diplomatic move, Azerbaijan briefed its ally Turkey regarding the operations. Defense Minister Zakir Gasanov engaged in discussions with his Turkish counterpart Yasar Guler, as confirmed by the ministry’s statement.
Azerbaijan has laid out a clear demand for the “complete withdrawal” of Armenian forces from Nagorno-Karabakh as a precondition for peace following the initiation of its “anti-terrorist” operations.
This proclamation, issued by Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry, underscores the pivotal role of de-escalation for lasting stability.
Amidst the conflict, Armenia implored Russian peacekeeping forces in Nagorno-Karabakh to intervene and curb what they termed Baku’s “full-scale aggression.”
Russia’s continued presence in the region since 2020 has been critical, though Armenia expressed concerns about potential distractions due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
As a humanitarian gesture, Azerbaijan unveiled the establishment of humanitarian routes for civilians caught in the crossfire of the “anti-terrorist” operations in Nagorno-Karabakh.
To facilitate the evacuation of the population from high-risk zones, corridors and reception points have been instituted, with the Lachin road serving as a vital lifeline.
In a grave accusation, Armenia asserted that Azerbaijan’s actions amounted to “ethnic cleansing” in Nagorno-Karabakh, a region with a substantial ethnic Armenian population.
The Foreign Ministry condemned what it deemed an act of aggression aimed at completing a policy of demographic change.
The European Union swiftly responded, urging Azerbaijan to immediately halt its military activities in Nagorno-Karabakh. European Council President Charles Michel expressed profound concern over the situation, advocating for genuine dialogue between Baku and Karabakh Armenians.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the imperative of ending violence to foster an environment conducive to peace talks.
Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh reported Azerbaijani forces attempting to make inroads into the region’s territory. They declared an ongoing resistance against Azerbaijan’s offensive along the entire contact line.
In a surprising revelation, Russia asserted that it received notice of Azerbaijan’s operation mere minutes before its launch, refuting claims of prior knowledge.
According to Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, reports suggesting forewarning to Russian peacekeepers are inaccurate.
As the situation rapidly evolves, the international community closely watches the unfolding developments in Nagorno-Karabakh, hoping for a swift and peaceful resolution.
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