At least 24 people were killed after deadly clashes between South Caucasus neighbours Armenia and Azerbaijan, with the latest violence in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh sparking international calls to halt the fighting.
Seventeen Armenian separatist fighters were killed and more than 100 wounded in the fighting on Sunday, Agence France Presse reported citing Karabakh President Arayik Harutyunyan.
Armenian Defence Ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan said Karabakh forces killed “some 200 Azerbaijani troops and destroyed 30 enemy artillery units and 20 drones”.
Both sides reported civilian casualties. Armenian rights activists said one ethnic Armenian woman and a child were killed, Reuters reported. AFP cited the Azeri government as saying that an Azerbaijani family of five were killed in shelling launched by Armenian separatists.
The clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan are the latest flare-up in an ongoing dispute over the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh region. Although the region is officially recognised as part of Azerbaijan, it is governed as a de facto independent state with an ethnic Armenian majority.
The United States, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the European Union and United Nations urged a swift end to hostilities on Sunday.
President Donald Trump said the United States was taking the fighting seriously.
“We’re looking at it very strongly,” Reuters cited him as telling reporters. “We have a lot of good relationships in that area. We’ll see if we can stop it.”
French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his “deep concern” and “strongly called for an immediate end to hostilities”, AFP said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the military flareup with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and said the fighting should end. Pashinyan called on the international community to prevent Turkey’s involvement in the clashes.
“We are on the brink of a full-scale war in the South Caucasus,” Pashinyan warned.
Turkey is a close political ally of Azerbaijan and has deployed fresh arms to the country including F-16 fighter jets.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sunday that Armenia was “the biggest threat to peace in the region” and that Turkey would “increasingly continue” its solidarity with Baku.
(All times local, GMT+3)
09:45 – Armenia ‘deploying terrorist groups’ to occupied Azerbaijani territories – Azerbaijani envoy
Armenia has armed and deployed militant groups, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), to occupied territories of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani Ambassador to Turkey Khazar Ibrahim told state-run Anadolu agency in an interview.
“They (Armenia) adopted a new national security strategy which specifically indicated that they want to occupy new territories of Azerbaijan,” he said. “Within the last several months, Armenia started a volunteer programme gathering the people, providing them with training, including women.”
09:40 – Azerbaijan issues final warning to Armenia
Azerbaijan issued a final warning to Armenia on Monday, threatening to retaliate with “adequate retaliatory measures” if forces fighting for Karabakh did not halt their attacks, Anadolu news agency said.
The Azerbaijani city of Terter has been under fire from Armenian forces since Monday morning, Anadolu cited Baku’s Defence Ministry as saying in a statement.