New Losses Reported After Fresh Armenia-Azerbaijan Border Clashes

Orkhan Jalilov Feature 14 July 2020
New Losses Reported After Fresh Armenia-Azerbaijan Border Clashes

Seven Azerbaijani servicemen and a civilian, and two Armenian officers have been killed during deadly skirmishes after Armenian armed forces opened fire on positions in northwestern Azerbaijan, on the third day of the new escalation of decades-long territorial dispute.

As a result of the border clashes on the night of July 13-14 and in the morning, in the Tovuz region of the Azerbaijan-Armenia state border, an Azerbaijani major-general, six servicemen and a civilian were killed in the fighting with Armenian forces, the head of press service of the Ministry of Defence of Azerbaijan Vagif Dargahli told journalists on July 14. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan condemned the death of a resident of Aghdam village of Tovuz region, Azizov Aziz Izzet oglu, born in 1944, as result of artillery fire opened by Armenian armed forces in the direction of Tovuz region of Azerbaijan on July 14, 2020. 

“The purposeful targeting of and firing from heavy weapons on the Azerbaijani civil population by Armenia is the obvious manifestation of fascism and barbarity. This is an integral part of Armenia’s aggressive policy. The killing of the Azerbaijani civil person is a bloody crime” the ministry said in a statement on July 14.

A total of number of losses from Azerbaijan reached 12, since the start of news escalations starting from July 12. Meanwhile, the Armenian side has started to announce their losses after two days of the clashes. 

According to the press secretary of Armenia’s Defense Ministry, Shushan Stepanyan, commander of an engineering-sapper detachment, Major Garush Hambardzumyan and Captain Sos Elbakyan have been killed in the battle with Azerbaijani Armed Forces. 

Earlier, Armenian officials said only two policemen were injured during the skirmishes, a number of Armenian media and users of social networks reported that the country's army lost 31 soldiers, including 7 officers, in the clashes with the Azerbaijani forces. 

On July 12, an aide to the president of Azerbaijan, Head of the Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration Hikmet Hajiyev described Armenia's attack on the positions of Azerbaijani armed forces as an act of aggression and provocation from Yerevan.

"The provocation by Armenia, perpetrated along the border, is yet another evidence that the official Yerevan is disinterested in the negotiated settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict," the Azerbaijani state-run Azertag news agency quoted Hajiyev as saying. 

The Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan also stated that the recent provocation by Armenia downplays the core principles of the negotiations mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

"Armenia bears full responsibility for such provocative actions that serve to aggravate the situation," the ministry said in a statement

Since the beginning of the clashes, Azerbaijani forces destroyed a strong point, artillery installations, vehicles and manpower of the Armenian army with the use of artillery fire, mortars and tanks, according to the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been at odds since the late 1980s with the dramatic rise in anti-Azerbaijan sentiments in Armenia, as well as Armenia's claims to Azerbaijan's historic Nagorno-Karabakh region, where partial Armenian population was living side by side indigenous Azerbaijanis. These sentiments transitioned into a full-blown military campaign in 1991, when Armenia launched an attack on Azerbaijani lands.

A four-year bloody war between the two neighbor countries ended with a ceasefire in 1994, which saw Armenia occupying 20 percent of Azerbaijan's sovereign territory, including the entire Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. Over 30,000 ethnic Azerbaijanis fell victim in the war, while one million were forced to leave their homes.

In 1993, the United Nations Security Council adopted four resolutions demanding the immediate withdrawal of the occupying forces from Azerbaijani lands and the return of internally displaced Azerbaijanis to their ancestral lands. All four legally binding documents go unfulfilled by Armenia to date. 

In the early 1990s, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe established the Minsk Group, a special mediation structure co-chaired by diplomats from Russia, the U.S. and France and tasked to help Armenia and Azerbaijan find a political end to the conflict. The Group's activities failed to produce a lasting solution so far due to what authorities in Baku explain as the inaction of the co-chairs on Armenia's illegal occupation of Azerbaijani lands. 

Despite the ceasefire agreement, Armenian forces launch regular armed attacks on Azerbaijani positions, causing both civilian and servicemen deaths. According to data compiled by the Military Prosecutor's Office, 856 Azerbaijani servicemen have been killed and injured over 26 years since the ceasefire came into force in 1994.