Azerbaijan and Armenia conflict over disputed Nagorno-Karabakh area

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Clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces broke out in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Both sides reported civilian deaths.

Armenia said Azerbaijan launched an air and artillery attack. It later declared martial law and total military mobilization.

Azerbaijan blamed Armenia, saying it was responding to shelling all along the front.

The long-running conflict has flared up again in recent months.

  • Find out more about Nagorno-Karabakh
  • Armenia country profile
  • Azerbaijan country profile

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to support Azerbaijan and described Armenia as the “greatest threat to peace and tranquility in the region”.

The Russian Foreign Ministry meanwhile called for an immediate ceasefire and talks to stabilize the situation.

Both Armenia and Azerbaijan were part of the Soviet Union before their collapse in 1991.

For four decades they have been in an unresolved conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but controlled by ethnic Armenians.

At least 16 people were killed in border fighting in July. This was the largest popular demonstration in years in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, calling for full mobilization and recapture of the region.

Turkey is closely linked to Azerbaijan and has no ties with Armenia due to a dispute over the mass murders of Armenians during the Ottoman era. Armenia says this was genocide, but Turkey firmly denies it.

What are the two sides saying?

The Armenian Defense Ministry said an attack on civilian settlements, including the regional capital, Stepanakert, began at 8:10 a.m. local time (04:10 GMT).

It was said to have shot down two helicopters and three drones and destroyed three tanks.

“Our response will be proportionate and the Azerbaijani military-political leadership bears full responsibility for the situation,” a statement said.

Image rightsReutersImage descriptionArmenia has announced full mobilization

Officials said a woman and a child were killed and other reports of victims are being reviewed.

The Armenian government declared martial law and full military mobilization shortly after a similar announcement by the authorities in the separatist region.

“Get ready to defend our holy homeland,” Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in a statement. He previously accused Azerbaijan of “pre-planned aggression”.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan accused Armenia of having started the fighting.

The defense ministry said that the intensive shelling of several villages resulted in civilians being killed or wounded and the infrastructure severely damaged.

The country announced a “counter-offensive by our troops along the entire front to suppress the fighting activities of the Armenian armed forces and to ensure the safety of the civilian population”.

It added that a helicopter was lost but the crew survived and that 12 Armenian air defense systems had been destroyed. It denied other losses reported by Armenia.

Later on Sunday, a defense ministry spokesman said several villages “that had been under enemy occupation for many years had been liberated”. The claim was denied by the Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman, who said it was “inconsistent with reality”.

Nagorno-Karabakh – key factors

  • A mountain region of approx. 4,400 km²
  • Traditionally inhabited by Christian Armenians and Muslim Turks
  • In the Soviet era it became an autonomous region within the Republic of Azerbaijan
  • Internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but the majority of the population is ethnically Armenian
  • An estimated one million people were displaced and around 30,000 killed in the 1990s war
  • Separatist forces captured additional territory around the enclave in Azerbaijan in the war of the 1990s
  • Since a truce in 1994, the stalemate has largely prevailed
  • Russia has traditionally supported the Armenians

In a televised address, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said Armenia’s policy was “a new war for new areas”.

“Armenia deliberately provoked Azerbaijan and you will see the bitter results from it,” he said.

“Armenia is an occupation country, and that occupation must end and end.”

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has long tried to mediate a solution to the conflict. Diplomats from France, Russia and the US that make up the OSCE-Minsk group are trying to build on a signed ceasefire agreement in 1994.

Related topics

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  • Azerbaijan
  • Armenia
  • Nagorno-Karabakh
  • Territorial disputes

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