Azerbaijan Liberates Several Villages Within Counteroffensive Measures In Karabakh

Orkhan Jalilov Feature 27 September 2020
Azerbaijan Liberates Several Villages Within Counteroffensive Measures In Karabakh

The Azerbaijani army has liberated several villages in a counter-offensive in the breakaway Karabakh region, following the early September 27 shelling of frontline villages by the Armenian armed forces.

The spokesperson for Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry, Colonel Lieutenant Anar Eyvazov, said in a press conference that the villages of Garakhanbeyli, Garvand, Kand Horadiz, Yukhari Abdurrahmanli, Boyuk Marjanli and Nuzgar in the direction of Fuzuli and Jabrayil districts were liberated. 

“In addition, the enemy’s positions in the direction of Aghdere district and Murovdagh were destroyed. The Azerbaijani army took the control of significant heights,” he added.

In a meeting of the Security Council, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev congratulated the Azerbaijani people and army on the liberation, and underlined that “we are defending ourselves”, the state TV channel AZTV broadcast the meeting live.

"There are reports of dead and wounded among civilians and military servicemen," Aliev also said.

Meanwhile, Secretary of the Security Council of the unrecognized Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, Samvel Babayan denied the report, saying that “we have just lost 4-5 positions, not settlements”, and announced the deaths of 10 servicemen. 

The representative of the Ministry of Defense of Armenia, Artsrun Hovhannisyan, claimed that four helicopters, about 15 drones, 10 tanks and armored vehicles of Azerbaijan have reportedly been destroyed during the clashes throughout the line of contact. 

The authorities in the Karabakh breakaway region and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan immediately declared "martial law and total military mobilization". 

Foreign reactions 

President of the European Council Charles Michel expressed his "serious concern" over the hostilities and called for an end to the military action. "An immediate return to negotiations, without preconditions, is the only way forward," he wrote on Twitter

The Russian Foreign Ministry called on the parties to the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh zone “to immediately cease fire and begin negotiations in order to stabilize the situation". 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had phone calls with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts, expressing his serious concern over the skirmishes. 

Ankara reiterated its support to Azerbaijan, with many high-ranking officials and the Turkish president declaring unwavering backing to the brotherly Turkic nation. 

"Azerbaijan will of course use its legitimate right of self-defense to protect its civilians and territorial integrity. In this process, Turkey's support for Azerbaijan is unwavering. However, if Azerbaijan wants us to support them, we will do so," Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy said in the statement. 

"We will support our Azerbaijani brothers with all our means in their fight to protect their territorial integrity," Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said in a statement.

The foreign ministries of Georgia, Kazakhstan, France, Poland, as well as The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group mediating in the peace process of the conflict expressed their serious concern about the large-scale clashes that continue in Nagorno-Karabakh and the deaths of civilians, in sperate statements.

History of conflict

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. 

A four-year bloody war between the two neighboring countries in 1991-1994, ended with a ceasefire, which saw Armenia occupying 20 percent of Azerbaijan's sovereign territory, including the entire Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts, and one million Azerbaijanis 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, but these documents go unfulfilled by Armenia until now.

In July 2020, tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan have led to short, but deadly skirmishes after Armenian armed forces opened fire on Azerbaijani positions. After the July clashes, Prime Minister Pashinyan insisted the illegal separatist regime deployed in the occupied Azerbaijani lands should participate in the Armenia-Azerbaijan talks as a separate party.

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.