A serious military escalation is taking place between Azerbaijan and Armenia currently with heavy fighting breaking out in the disputed Nagorno Karabakh region.
Since fighting broke out yesterday, tanks battles have allegedly taken place, shelling, airstrikes hitting military points and it is reported that an Azerbaijani helicopter has been shot down by an Armenian air defence system.
The last large conflict between the two sides started in 1991 and ended in 1994, but skirmishes have taken place between the two sides ever since. Armenia was allegedly assisted by Russia during the conflict with Chechen’s and even Afghan Mujahideen fighters allegedly assisting Azerbaijan.
The Nagorno Karabakh Republic within Azerbaijan has been an area of hostility and tension for many years between the two nations. It is home to mainly ethnic Armenians and had declared independencefrom Azerbaijan after the war which ended in 1994.
Hikmat Hajiyev, spokesman for the Azerbaijani foreign ministry has blamed Armenian forces for the current escalation saying:
‘All the responsibility for the situation completely falls on Armenia, which is an aggressor and occupier country, actions of the Armenian armed forces to escalate tensions coincide with the anniversary of the occupation of Azerbaijan’s Kalbajar district on April 2, 1993.’
‘Despite the fact that the resolutions 822 (1993), 853 (1993), 874 (1993) and 884 (1993), adopted by the UN Security Council, demand the complete and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from all the occupied Azerbaijani territories, the Armenian side continues the occupation of the territories, intentional aggravation of the situation and provocative actions against civilians.’
Meanwhile the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia released a statement on their website today (02 April 2016) blaming Azerbaijan forces for the current escalation:
‘We strongly condemn the military actions, unleashed by the Azerbaijani armed forces last night along the entire Line of Contact with Nagorno-Karabakh and the border with Armenia, which targeted also civilian infrastructures and settlements.’
‘Baku’s continued efforts to undermine the negotiation process, including the recent rejection to meet with the Minsk Group Co-Chairs, along with reinforced military attacks by Azerbaijan are yet another futile attempts of blackmailing.’
Azerbaijan has claimed that it came under mortar and artillery fire yesterday and was forced to respond urgently by what Armenia claims were tanks, heavy artillery and helicopter gun ships.
- Youtube video Reuters (02 Apr 2016) – Fighting erupts in Azerbaijan: