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As tensions with Yerevan escalate, the Defense Ministry says Armenian firing points, combat assets and military installations are the targets.
Azerbaijan has launched what it calls “anti-terrorist activities” in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, its defense ministry said, stressing that the offensive would only target military structures.
“Local anti-terrorist activities carried out by the Azerbaijani armed forces in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan continue,” said a statement from the Ministry of Defense published on Tuesday.
“As part of these activities, only legitimate military installations and infrastructure are targeted and neutralized using high-precision weapons,” he said, adding that he had created humanitarian corridors to allow the evacuation of civilians.
A journalist with the AFP news agency said explosions were heard in the region’s de facto capital, known as Stepanakert to Armenians and Khankendi in Azerbaijani.
Armenia has said it has no personnel or military equipment in Karabakh, according to its Defense Ministry.
At the same time, Russia said it was “deeply alarmed by the sharp escalation” in the disputed region, TASS news outlet 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 from landmines planted by Azerbaijan forces. Armenian security.
The region has long been the center of tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia, leading to two wars over its control. Currently, the region is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but it is largely populated by ethnic Armenians.
The last large-scale conflict erupted in 2020 and lasted six weeks before a Russian-brokered truce. The ceasefire saw Armenia cede swathes of territory it had controlled since the 1990s.
Since then, the two sides have failed to reach a lasting peace settlement despite mediation efforts by the European Union, Russia and the United States.
Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of provoking a months-long humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh after Baku last year blocked the only road linking the mountainous region to Armenia. It’s called the Lachin Corridor and Russian peacekeepers guard it.
Trucks loaded with humanitarian aid entered Nagorno-Karabakh on Monday after Armenian separatists and the central government agreed to use routes linking it to Armenia and Azerbaijan, according to Baku.
Al Jazeera’s Robin Forestier-Walker, who has covered the events in Nagorno-Karabakh extensively, said there was “great fear” that it was 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 within the region were of “large-scale attacks potentially in the form of rocket attacks and bombings,” while the sound of small arms fire could be heard in videos posted on social media.
Forestier-Walker said the situation had been “disastrous” for months for the people of Nagorno-Kabarakh.
“They were cut off from the main routes supplying Karabakh from Armenia,” he added.
“Things have changed recently. Azerbaijani authorities were able to get help from the Azerbaijani side of control of Karabakh, but they continued to press access to Karabakh from Armenia because Azeri authorities have long claimed that this route is used for smuggling. weapons and mines in the territory which is still under ethnic Armenian control.