Fighting erupts between Armenia, Azerbaijan in disputed area

Nellie Chapman
September 27, 2020

Fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia broke out around the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh after Armenia attacked civilian settlements and military positions, Azerbaijan President says.

"In order to suppress the combat activity of the armed forces of Armenia and ensure the safety of the civilian population, the command of the Azerbaijan Army made a decision to launch a counter-offensive operation of troops along the entire front".

Numerous civilians were killed or injured amid renewed Azeri-Armenian hostilities over Nagorno-Karabakh, the breakaway region's officials reported as its ally Armenia declared martial law and issued a total conscription call.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been at loggerheads over the mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh since 1988.

"There are reports of dead and wounded among civilians and military servicemen", the spokesman for the Azerbaijani presidency, Hikmet Hajiyev, said in a statement.

The worst clashes since 2016 have raised the spectre of a fresh large-scale war between arch-foes Azerbaijan and Armenia that have been locked for decades in a territorial dispute over Nagorny Karabakh.

Armenia's defence ministry said its troops had destroyed three tanks and shot down two helicopters and three unmanned aerial vehicles in response to an attack on civilian targets including the regional capital of Stepanakert.

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The ministry confirmed the downing of only one Azerbaijani helicopter and said its crew had survived.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has vowed victory over Armenian forces in a televised address to the nation.

More than a dozen Armenian and Azeri soldiers were killed in July at the border between the two, which have always been at odds over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijan has made repeated threats to take back the region by force.

Raising the stakes, Azerbaijan at the time threatened to strike Armenia's atomic power station if Yerevan attacked strategic facilities.

A ceasefire, that was signed in 1994, largely put an end to the full-scale conflict, however, peace talks mediated by France, Russia and the United States collapsed in 2010. Martial law has also been declared, with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan telling compatriots to "be ready to defend our sacred homeland".

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