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As tensions with Yerevan escalate, the Defense Ministry says Armenian emplacements, combat assets and military installations are being targeted.
Azerbaijan has launched what it called “anti-terrorist activities” in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, its defense ministry said, stressing that the attack would only target military structures.
“Local anti-terrorist activities carried out by the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan continue,” the Ministry of Defense said. declaration published on Tuesday.
“Only legitimate military installations and infrastructure are targeted and destroyed in the activities using high-precision weapons,” it said, adding that it had created humanitarian corridors to allow for the evacuation of civilians.
An AFP news agency reporter said explosions were heard in the region’s de facto capital, known as Stepanakert to Armenians and Khankendi in Azerbaijan.
Armenia said it had no military personnel or equipment in Karabakh, according to its defense ministry.
Meanwhile, Russia said it was “deeply concerned about the sharp escalation” in the contested region, TASS media reported, citing Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
The statement announcing the offensive came hours after Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry said at least six people had died in two separate accidents in Azerbaijan’s Khojavend district, allegedly due to landmines planted by Armenian security forces.
The region has long been at the center of tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia, leading to two wars over its control. Today, the region is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but is largely populated by ethnic Armenians.
The last large-scale conflict erupted in 2020 and lasted six weeks before a Russian-brokered ceasefire. The ceasefire meant that Armenia ceded parts of the territory it had controlled since the 1990s.
The two sides have since been unable to reach a lasting peace settlement despite mediation efforts by the European Union, Russia and the United States.
Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of causing a months-long humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh after Baku blocked the only road linking the mountainous region to Armenia last year. It’s called the Lachin Corridor and it’s guarded by Russian peacekeepers.
Trucks loaded with humanitarian aid entered Nagorno-Karabakh on Monday after Armenian separatists and the central government agreed to use roads linking it to Armenia and Azerbaijan, Baku said.
Al Jazeera’s Robin Forestier-Walker, who has covered events in Nagorno-Karabakh extensively, said there was “great fear” that there could be another full-scale war between the two countries.
Noting that the region has been under blockade since December last year, Forestier-Walker said reports from the region spoke of “major attacks in the form of potentially rocket attacks and shelling”, while the sound of small arms fire could be heard in the videos published on social networks.
Forestier-Walker said the situation has been “terrible” for the people of Highland Kabarach for months.
“They were cut off from the main roads supplying Karabakh from Armenia,” he added.
“Things have been changing lately. Authorities in Azerbaijan managed to get some aid to Karabakh from the Azerbaijani side of control, but continued to press for Karabakh’s access from Armenia, as Azerbaijani authorities have long argued that this route is used for smuggling. weapons and mines in territory still under the control of ethnic Armenians.