Europe 1 with AFP / Photo credits: STRINGER / ANADOLU AGENCY / Anadolu Agency via AFP 16:01 p.m., September 19, 2023On Tuesday, Azerbaijan announced that it had launched "anti-terrorist operations" targeting Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh. This announcement comes three years after the start of the previous Karabakh war in September 2020, a conflict won at the time after six weeks by Azerbaijani forces.
Azerbaijan announced on Tuesday that it had launched "anti-terrorist operations" targeting Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh, a region disputed between Armenians and Azerbaijanis and where detonations were heard by an AFP journalist in the capital Stepanakert. This announcement comes three years after the start of the previous Karabakh war in September 2020, a conflict won at the time after six weeks by Azerbaijani forces.
Russia, "concerned" by the "brutal escalation" of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, where Azerbaijan has launched a military operation against Armenian separatists, is working to bring Yerevan and Baku back to the negotiating table, the Kremlin said Tuesday.
The France condemned "in the strongest terms" Azerbaijan's launch of a military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh and called for "the urgent convening of a meeting of the UN Security Council". The head of French diplomacy also denounced an operation "illegal, unjustifiable, unacceptable".
"Counter-terrorism operations have begun in the region. As part of these measures, the positions of the Armenian armed forces ... are put out of harm's way with high-precision weapons on the front line and in depth," the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Two civilians killed and 23 wounded
At least two civilians were killed and 23 others wounded in the Azerbaijani military operation launched earlier in the day in Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenian separatist authorities in the enclave said.
"The number of civilian injuries has risen to 23. The reported number of civilian casualties is (him) two," Gegham Stepanyan, the rights defender of the separatist region, said on X (formerly Twitter). "Civilian infrastructure is also being targeted" by the Azerbaijani army, he said.
Azerbaijan opens fire on military positions in Karabakh
An AFP journalist in Stepanakert said he heard detonations in the city early Tuesday afternoon, without being able to give further details. "Azerbaijan opened fire on various military positions in Karabakh," Armenian MP Tigran Abrahamian said on Facebook. Azerbaijan said it had informed Russia and Turkey of its operation in Karabakh.
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Baku justified its military operation by the death of four policemen and two civilians in the explosion of mines on a road construction site in Nagorno-Karabakh, accusing Armenian separatists in this disputed region of having committed these acts of "terrorism".
Yerevan accuses Baku of causing a humanitarian crisis
Nagorno-Karabakh, scene of two wars between Armenia and Azerbaijan, in the early 1990s and autumn 2020, is one of the most mined regions of the former USSR. Explosions regularly cause casualties. This mountainous region with an Armenian majority located in Azerbaijan proclaimed its independence from Baku to the disintegration of the USSR, with the support of Yerevan, leading to an armed conflict won by the separatists.
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But 30 years later, in the fall of 2020, the Azerbaijani armed forces took their revenge and recaptured significant territories in and around the region. This war ended after Vladimir Putin mediated and the deployment of a Russian peacekeeping mission. But the truce has always been fragile and punctuated by armed incidents.
These new incidents come as Yerevan accuses Baku, which denies, of causing a humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh by blocking since the end of 2022 the Lachinian corridor, the only road between Armenia and the mountainous enclave. Armenia also blames Russia for its inaction. Baku, with Turkey's support and oil windfall, has built an army far more powerful than that of its Armenian neighbor.