Azerbaijan has announced that it will not stop its military operation in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh until the Armenian forces surrender. The statement came after a day of intense fighting that left dozens of people dead and injured on both sides.
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said that the offensive was a response to the “terrorism” and “provocations” of Armenia and the separatist authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenians since a war in the 1990s.
Aliyev told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Azerbaijan was ready to halt the “anti-terrorist measures” if the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh laid down their weapons, according to a statement from the Azerbaijani presidency.
Armenia, however, denied the presence of its military personnel and facilities in Nagorno-Karabakh, accusing Azerbaijan of spreading false information and violating the ceasefire agreement brokered by Russia in November 2020.
The Armenian Ministry of Defense said that at least 27 people had been killed and 200 wounded as a result of the hostilities. It also claimed that it had shot down several Azerbaijani drones and helicopters.
The clashes have raised fears of a new war in the South Caucasus, a region that borders Turkey, Iran and Russia. The UN Security Council is expected to hold an emergency meeting on September 21 to discuss the situation.
The conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh has been simmering for decades, with occasional flare-ups and skirmishes. The latest escalation comes after Azerbaijan launched a major offensive in 2020, capturing parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding territories. Armenia accused Russia, its main ally and peacekeeper in the region, of failing to protect its interests and allowing Azerbaijan to blockade Nagorno-Karabakh, preventing basic supplies from reaching the population.