Fighting erupted again between Armenia and Azerbaijan last night as the two former Soviet states fought over a disputed region that could lead to a proxy war between Russia and Turkey.
Azerbaijan aired footage of two Armenian tanks being blown up on the battlefield, while Armenia claimed to have shot down 80 armored vehicles, 49 drones and four Azerbaijani helicopters on Monday evening.
Armenia today warned against using more destructive weapons in the conflict as it was an Azerbaijani offensive, saying the fighting had "taken to a new level".
Both sides accused the other of firing heavy artillery in fighting that killed dozens of people, allegedly including civilians, since recent violence broke out on Sunday in the disputed Berg-Karakbach region.
Separatists in the region, where mainly ethnic Armenians live, are fighting for the secession of Azerbaijan, which is strongly supported by its close ally Turkey.
Armenia, which supports the separatists, last night accused Turkey of "assisting Azerbaijan in carrying out acts of genocide," a reference to the early 20th century massacre it describes as the Armenian genocide and relations between Turkey and Armenia still poisoned.
Martial law has been declared in both countries and Armenia has prohibited men over the age of 18 in its military reserves from leaving the country as fighting continues despite global requests for calm.
Stepping into full warfare could attract nuclear-armed Russia, which has a military base in Armenia but has called for the "immediate end" of hostilities.
Footage released by the Azerbaijani military showed that two tanks were blown up during the recent fighting in Armenia
An Azerbaijani howitzer firing ammunition at Armenian positions after the start of a military operation on Monday
Crossroads between the Middle East and Russia: The fighting takes place in the controversial Nagorno-Karabakh of Azerbaijan, which is controlled by separatists allied with Armenia. Turkey borders Armenia but is an ally of Azerbaijan, and Ankara's support for Baku marks the region's latest military adventure after incursions into Syria and Libya. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan are former Soviet republics bordering Iran. Moscow has asked both sides to end the fighting
Why Armenia and Azerbaijan are fighting again
WHAT AND WHERE IS NAGORNO-KARABAKH?
Karabakh is a region in Azerbaijan that has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces since the end of a widespread separatist war in 1994, after about 30,000 people were killed and an estimated one million people were displaced.
Nagorno-Karabakh is approximately 1,700 square miles, but Armenian forces are occupying other areas nearby as well.
HOW DID THE CONFLICT BEGIN?
Long-simmering tensions between Christian Armenians and predominantly Muslim Azerbaijani began to intensify as the Soviet Union frayed in recent years. When the USSR collapsed in 1991 and the republics became independent nations, war broke out.
Following a 1994 ceasefire, Armenian and Azerbaijani forces faced each other in a demilitarized zone, where clashes were widely reported.
What has happened since then?
International mediation efforts have made barely any visible progress. The conflict was an economic blow to the Caucasus region as it hampered trade and prompted Turkey to close its border with Armenia.
Fighting regularly occurs on the Nagorno-Karabakh borders, often fatal, especially in 2016 and in July. Dozens have been killed and wounded by both sides since new fighting broke out on Sunday. Each country blamed the other.
WHAT'S THE BROADER IMPACT?
The conflict in the small, hard-to-reach region is not only causing local victims and damage, but is also of concern to large regional actors.
Russia is Armenia's main economic partner and has a military base there, while Turkey has offered support to Azerbaijani, fellow Muslims and ethnic brothers of the Turks. Iran borders both Armenia and Azerbaijan and demands calm.
Under the auspices of the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the United States, France and Russia are to act as guarantors for the lengthy peace process.
The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense said today that opposing forces are trying to regain lost ground by launching counter-attacks on Fizuli, Jabrayil, Agdere and Terter.
The ministry said there was fighting over Fizuli on Tuesday morning and the Armenian army had shelled the Dashkesan region on the border between the two countries, miles from Nagorno Karabakh.
Armenia denied these claims but reported fighting throughout the night and said the Nagorno-Karabakh army repelled attacks in different directions along the line of contact.
Officials in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, said the separatists in the Nagorno-Karabakh region opposed an Azerbaijani offensive.
Military leaders in the Armenian enclave say 58 soldiers have been killed on their side so far, while both sides blame the other for alleged civilian deaths.
Armenia claimed Tuesday that a nine-year-old girl was killed in the shelling while her mother and a brother were wounded, while Azerbaijan said five family members were killed in the shots.
The Armenian Defense Ministry claimed today that a civilian bus was set on fire after being hit by an Azerbaijani unmanned aerial vehicle.
Armenia accuses its enemy of using Smerch and TOS-1A rocket launchers, and says it was forced to use "military hardware of greater power" in response.
& # 39; The Azerbaijani side resumed its large-scale offensive operations since early morning. Heavy TOS-1A flamethrowers are used. The use of TOS, Smerch and other large-caliber systems is changing the philosophy and scope of Mil-Ops and bringing them to a new level of escalation, ”said Defense spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan.
As a result, the Armenian Armed Forces are "being forced to use equipment and ammunition designed to attack long-range targets designed for large-scale and indiscriminate labor force destruction, as well as static and mobile property," she warned.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan firmly sided with Azerbaijan, which shares ethnic, cultural and linguistic ties with the greater power.
"It is time to end the crisis in the region that began with the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh," Erdogan said. "Now Azerbaijan has to take matters into its own hands."
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Monday ordered a partial military mobilization, and General Mais Barkhudarov vowed to "fight to the last drop of blood to completely destroy and win the enemy".
Armenia has accused Turkey of sending mercenaries to Azerbaijan, a claim Erdogan's government denies.
Turkey told fighters it would be tasked with protecting border regions in Azerbaijan for wages of up to $ 2,000, said Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Anna Naghdalyan, a spokeswoman for the Armenian Foreign Ministry, said the Nagorno-Karabakh people were fighting "against a Turkish-Azerbaijani alliance".
"Turkey, which annihilated the Armenians in their historic homeland a century ago and justified this crime, is now supporting Azerbaijan with all means to carry out the same acts of genocide in the South Caucasus," she said.
Up to 1.5 million Armenians were rounded up and killed by their Turkish rulers in mass murders that began during World War I, but Turkey vehemently denies the term "genocide".
Armenia released this footage of fighting in the South Caucasus, which it feared could lead to a proxy war
Armenian positions are hit by Azerbaijani armed forces who claimed to be taking control of the highlands surrounding the village of Talis
Azerbaijan's soldiers fire from a mortar at the contact line of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic
An Azerbaijani artillery strike against the positions of Armenian separatists in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region
How the armed forces compare
82,000 members of the armed forces
570 tanks, including T-55, T-90 and modified T-72, were upgraded by Israel
29 combat aircraft (five MiG-21, 12 MiG-29 and 12 Su-25 aircraft)
49,000 members of the armed forces
110 tanks, including the T-80, T-72, T-55 and BMP models
13 combat aircraft (nine Su-25 and four Su-30 aircraft)
510,000 members of the armed forces
3,000 tanks including 339 German-made Leopard 2A4s and 1,200 American M60 tanks
206 combat aircraft (48 F4 jets and 158 F-16 jets)
1.45 million members of the armed forces
12,950 tanks including T-72 and T-80 from the Soviet era, T-14 Armata from the Russian era and T-90 models
1,616 combat aircraft, including the MiG, Sukhoi and Tupolev models
7,000 nuclear warheads with land, air and sea cannons
Turkey has also conducted drills with F-16s in Azerbaijan, but Baku denied claims that either of the fighter jets existed or that one was shot down.
Russia previously provided arms to Armenia in the sensitive region, where pipelines carrying Caspian oil and natural gas from Azerbaijan to the world run near Nagorno-Karabakh.
The report on the Turkish intervention comes after the European Union warned regional powers not to interfere in the fighting and condemned a "serious escalation" that is threatening regional stability.
Omer Celika, spokesman for Erdogan's ruling party, denied reports that Turkey had sent weapons or foreign fighters to Azerbaijan.
"Armenia is troubled by Turkey's solidarity with Azerbaijan and is producing lies against Turkey," said Celik.
Erdogan criticized France, the US and Russia – the three leaders of the so-called Minsk Group, which was founded in 1992 to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict – and said they had not solved the problem for 30 years.
'They did their best not to solve this problem. And now they come and advise and threaten. You say is Turkey here, is the Turkish military here? Said Erdogan.
Armenia and Karabakh declared martial law and military mobilization on Sunday, while Azerbaijan imposed military rule and curfew in major cities.
Analysts warn that the conflict could escalate into a proxy conflict between Moscow and Ankara, both of which already exert influence in Syria and Libya.
Michael Carpenter, a former Pentagon official, said any Turkish involvement was "extremely destabilizing" and "could lead to a proxy war between Turkey and Russia".
Rita Katz, director of the SITE Intelligence Monitoring Group, said the two countries "continue to fight for control across the region and support agents on controversial non-secular lines" – referring to the fact that Azerbaijan is a Muslim-majority country, while most of the Armenians are Christians.
In addition to the EU and Russia, France, Germany, Italy and the USA have called for a ceasefire.
President Donald Trump said Sunday that the United States would try to end the violence. "We're looking at it very carefully," he said at a press conference. & # 39; We have a lot of good relationships in this area. We'll see if we can stop it. & # 39;
Democratic candidate Joe Biden urged the White House to call for more observers along the ceasefire line and accused Russia of "cynical arms supply on both sides."
Erdogan spoke about the crisis in a phone call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night. Downing Street called for an "urgent de-escalation in the region".
Azerbaijan's missile launches from the missile system on the contact line of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic
Footage released by the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region shows the bodies of men in military uniform, allegedly Azerbaijani military personnel, killed in clashes over the disputed region
Rocket fire from the Azerbaijani side during some of the worst acts of violence in the disputed region since a war in the 1990s resulted in a stalemate
A video shows an Azerbaijani TB-2 drone from Turkey chasing an Armenian T-72 tank across the battlefield
Five European countries – Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany and Great Britain – asked for a UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday to deal with the escalating conflict.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres spoke to the leaders of both countries and called for an immediate halt to the fighting, de-escalation of tensions and a return to meaningful negotiations without preconditions or delay.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the situation was "a cause for concern for Moscow and other countries".
"We believe that hostilities should end immediately," said Peskov, adding that the process of resolving the conflict should move into a "politico-diplomatic" dimension.
Nuclear-armed Russia has a military base in Armenia and regards it as a strategic partner in the South Caucasus, supplying the ex-Soviet country with weapons.
The Kremlin has posed as a mediator, but Azerbaijan claimed last month that Moscow "heavily armed" Armenia after previous clashes in July.
The hostilities that year were the worst since 2016, when intense fighting killed dozens and threatened to escalate into an all-out war.
Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan in a conflict that broke out when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
Although a ceasefire was agreed in 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia frequently accuse each other of attacks around Nagorno-Karabakh and along the separate Azerbaijani-Armenian border after the deaths of thousands of people and many more displaced persons.
Around 110 people were killed in the most recent clashes in Karabakh in April 2016.
In July 2020, severe clashes along the common border between the two countries – hundreds of kilometers from Karabakh – claimed the lives of at least 17 soldiers on both sides.
(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) News (t) Russia