Azerbaijan launches offensive, Armenia denounces “aggression” for the purposes of “ethnic cleansing”

Azerbaijan launches offensive, Armenia denounces “aggression” for the purposes of “ethnic cleansing”

2023-09-19 14:39:41

By Le Figaro with AFP

Published 2 hours ago, Updated 4 minutes ago


Baku said it was launching “anti-terrorist operations” against the enclave. The capital, Stepanakert, and other towns in the region are being targeted by “intensive shooting,” according to Armenian separatist authorities.

Nagorno-Karabakh once again under Azerbaijani bombs. The separatist region’s capital, Stepanakert, and other towns in the region are targeted by “intensive shooting», Declared local authorities on Tuesday. “Azerbaijan launched a large-scale military operation against the Republic of Artsakh (the name given by the Armenians to Nagorno-Karabakh, editor’s note)», indicated on Facebook the representation of the separatists in Armenia. Armenian diplomacy, for its part, denounced “a new large-scale aggression against the people of Nagorno Karabakh, seeking to complete its policy of ethnic cleansing».

“Anti-terrorist operations”, assures Baku

Azerbaijan announced that it had launched “anti-terrorist operations» targeting the Armenian forces in the region disputed by Armenians and Azerbaijanis and where detonations were heard by a journalist in 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. “Anti-terrorist operations have begun in the region. As part of these measures, the positions of the Armenian armed forces (…) are rendered harmless using high-precision weapons on the front line and in depth“, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said in a statement. According to the separatist forces, who claim to resist “along the entire line of contact, the Azerbaijani army is trying to advance “in depth».

Dissolution of the so-called separatist regime demanded by Baku

«The only way to achieve peace and stability in the region is the unconditional and complete withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from the Azerbaijani Karabakh region and the dissolution of the so-called regime.» separatist, Azerbaijani diplomacy indicated in a press release.

No Armenian military on site, according to Yerevan

The Armenian prime minister refuted Baku’s assertions. “Azerbaijan launched ground operation aimed at ethnic cleansing of Karabakh Armenians“, said Nikol Pashinian in a televised statement, assuring on the other hand that the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border was, “stable» and that Armenia was “notnot engaged in armed actions“. Nikol Pashinian also called on Russia and the UN to “take measures” in the face of this operation.

Moscow warned at the last minute

Azerbaijan said it had informed Russia and Turkey of its operation in Karabakh. Moscow, however, indicates that it was only warned that “a few minutes» before the start of operations. Armenia calls on Russian peacekeeping forces deployed in the region to “stop the aggression».

Baku justified its military operation by the deaths of four police officers and two civilians in the explosion of mines on a road site in Nagorno Karabakh, accusing the Armenian separatists of this disputed region of having committed these acts of “terrorism“. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said it was setting up humanitarian corridors to allow the evacuation of civilians from Nagorno-Karabakh.

One of the most mined regions of the former USSR

Nagorno-Karabakh, the scene of two wars between Armenia and Azerbaijan, in the early 1990s and then in the fall of 2020, is one of the most mined regions in the former USSR. Explosions regularly cause casualties there. This Armenian-majority mountainous region located in Azerbaijan proclaimed its independence from Baku upon the disintegration of the USSR, with the support of Yerevan, leading to an armed conflict won by the separatists.

But 30 years later, in the fall of 2020, the Azerbaijani armed forces took their revenge and reconquered significant territories in and around the region. This war ended after mediation by Vladimir Putin and the deployment of a Russian peacekeeping mission. But the truce has always been fragile and punctuated by armed incidents.

Azerbaijan accused of causing humanitarian crisis

These new incidents come as Yerevan accuses Baku, which denies, of causing a humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh by blocking the Lachin corridor since the end of 2022, the only road between Armenia and the mountainous enclave. Armenia also criticizes Russia for its inaction. Baku, with the support of Turkey and its oil windfall, has built an army much more powerful than that of its Armenian neighbor.

Paris calls for “emergency” meeting of the UN Security Council

France condemned “with the greatest firmness» Azerbaijan’s launch of a military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh and requested “the emergency convening of a meeting of the United Nations Security Council».

The EU, through the President of the European Council Charles Michel, called on Azerbaijan to stop “immediately» its operation, to allow a genuine dialogue between Baku and the Armenians of Karabakh. “This military escalation must not be used as a pretext to force the exile of local populations», Also declared the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell.

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