BAKU, Azerbaijan – The fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces continued on Sunday over the dissenter region of Nagorno-Karabakh, with Azerbaijan’s second-largest city coming under attack.
Azerbaijani officials said Sunday that Armenian forces attacked Ganja, the country’s second largest city. Hikmet Hajiyev, an aide to the Azerbaijani president, tweeted a video depicting damaged buildings, and called it the result of “Armenia’s massive missile attacks against dense residential areas” in Ganja.
It wasn’t promptly conceivable to confirm the authenticity of the video. Hajiyev said in another tweet that attacks on Ganja and different territories in Azerbaijan were dispatched “from region of Armenia.”
Armenia’s Defence Ministry said that “no fire of any kind is being opened from the territory of Armenia in Azerbaijan’s direction.” But Nagorno-Karabakh’s leader, Arayik Harutyunyan, confirmed on Facebook he ordered “rocket attacks to neutralize military objects” in Ganja. His spokesman, Vahram Poghosyan, said the territory’s army destroyed a military airport in Ganja, a claim Azerbaijani officials denied.
The attack on the city killed one civilian and left four others wounded, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry tweeted. Harutyunyan said he ordered his forces to stop the attacks on Ganja to avoid civilian casualties. Nagorno-Karabakh’s leader added that “proportionate and crushing” strikes targeting the opponent’s forces would continue, if Azerbaijan fails “to draw appropriate lessons.”
The fighting, which broke out on Sept. 27 and has continued for eight straight days, is the biggest escalation in years in the decades-long dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh. The region lies within Azerbaijan, but is controlled by local ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia. Both sides said the hostilities have spread beyond the breakaway territory and accused each other of attacking areas outside Nagorno-Karabakh.
Ganja, with a population of more than 330,000, is located roughly 100 kilometres (about 60 miles) north of Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh’s capital.
In a statement issued later on Sunday, Azerbaijan’s Defence Ministry rejected accusations of targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure.
Nagorno-Karabakh officials have said nearly 200 servicemen on their side have died so far. Azerbaijani authorities haven’t given details on their military casualties, but said 22 civilians were killed and 74 others were wounded.
Nagorno-Karabakh was a designated autonomous region within Azerbaijan during the Soviet era. It claimed independence from Azerbaijan in 1991, about three months before the Soviet Union’s collapse. A full-scale war that broke out in 1992 killed an estimated 30,000 people.
Armenian officials allege that Turkey is involved in the conflict and is sending fighters from Syria to the region. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said earlier this week that “a cease-fire can be established only if Turkey is removed from the South Caucasus.”
On Sunday, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry condemned the attack on Ganja, saying it was proof of Armenia’s disregard for the law. Ankara accused Armenia of attacking civilian residential areas, and claimed that Armenia could commit crimes against humanity.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Aziz Karimov
News source: The Associated Press