Nagorno-Karabakh reports 25 deaths from Azerbaijani offensive. The country wants to end the autonomy of the region inhabited by Armenians with a major attack and achieve complete control over the area.
25 people are said to have been killed in the Azerbaijani military offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh. “As of 8 p.m., there are 25 victims, including two civilians, as a result of the comprehensive terrorist attack by Azerbaijan,” wrote the human rights commissioner of the internationally unrecognized Republic of Artsakh, Gegam Stepanyan, on the X platform, formerly Twitter.
There are also at least 138 injured, including 29 civilians. Residents from six places were brought to safety from the Azerbaijani shelling, said Stepanyan.
Attack after a long escalation
After months of escalation in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijani troops began a broad military operation this morning to conquer the Caucasus region. According to the representation of Nagorno-Karabakh in Armenia, the regional capital Stepanakert and other cities were under “intense shelling”.
Shortly before the attack began, Azerbaijan said two road administration employees had hit a mine and were killed in the explosion. Four soldiers who rushed to help were killed by another mine.
The Ministry of Defense in Baku said that targets at the front and in the rear, gun positions and military installations with precision weapons were taken out of action. Only military targets were attacked. Azerbaijan also accused Armenian forces of shelling Shusha – a city in Nagorno-Karabakh controlled by Azerbaijan. A civilian was killed.
Azerbaijan demands surrender
Nagorno-Karabakh is calling on Azerbaijan on the Telegram online service to immediately stop firing and begin negotiations, the breakaway region’s Foreign Ministry said.
Azerbaijan agreed to negotiate, but demanded that the Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh surrender. The Armenian troops in the region must disband and give up their weapons, the “illegal regime” must dissolve, said the presidential administration in Baku. Otherwise, the “anti-terrorist operations would continue until the end.”
“Enough is enough. We can no longer tolerate such forces being on our territory,” presidential adviser Hikmet Hejiyev told the Reuters news agency, referring to military forces in the exclave. According to him, Azerbaijani units have broken through in several places on the front.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry said that neither the country’s troops nor weapons were stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh. Rumors about sabotage and the laying of landmines were “a lie and fabricated.”
Signal of relaxation the day before
The disputed region lies on Azerbaijani territory, but is predominantly inhabited by ethnic Armenians. The two neighboring countries have been fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh for decades. Since the end of a separatist war in 1994, the region has been controlled by ethnic Armenians supported by Armenia. In 2020, Azerbaijan recaptured a large part of the region.
Azerbaijan has been blocking shipments to the enclave since late last year, leading to severe food shortages there. On Monday, Azerbaijan finally allowed Red Cross aid deliveries of flour and medical supplies. However, regional authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh said the road was still not fully open.
RIA: Russia evacuates civilians
Armenia is considered militarily inferior. Azerbaijan is supported by Turkey in the conflict. Russia is Armenia’s traditional protecting power, brokered a peace treaty and has stationed a peacekeeping force several thousand strong in the area.
Armenia has repeatedly accused the Russian peacekeeping force of being unwilling or unable to keep the road to Nagorno-Karabakh open. Now Armenia called in Russian troops for help. The RIA agency reported that they had evacuated almost 500 civilians from the contested areas and cared for the wounded.
Türkiye stands behind Azerbaijan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, however, once again supported Azerbaijan. Erdogan said this at the beginning of the general debate at the UN General Assembly in New York.
Meanwhile, Iran offered itself as a mediator. Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani called for compliance with the 2020 ceasefire agreement between the countries, both of which share a border with Iran. Just a few days ago, Iran’s Defense Minister Mohammed-Reza Ashtiani warned of a war in the region. Like Russia, Iran maintains good relations with Armenia.
The European Union also called for a halt to hostilities and, like the USA, declared its willingness to mediate. France, which has traditionally had close ties to Armenia, called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council over the military operation, the French Foreign Ministry said.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly that it was “very clear that these acts of war must end immediately.” It’s about “returning to the path of diplomacy.”