Heavy fighting between Armenians and Azerbaijanis intensified on Saturday across most of the front in Nagorno-Karabakh (also known as Nagorno Karabakh), with Armenia acknowledging heavy losses among the separatists.
at perhaps the most decisive moment in its historyPrime Minister Nikol Pachinian said in a televised address on Saturday, referring to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, where Yerevan-backed separatists are fighting Azerbaijani soldiers.
national prayer for Nagorno-Karabakh and its defenders took place in the evening in all the churches of Armenia and its diaspora.
On the seventh day of hostilities in this region that Azerbaijan seeks to reconquer, the Armenian Ministry of Defense assured that the separatist troops had repelled a massive attack.
The soldiers of Nagorno-Karabakh
destroyed a large military group, announced Armenian military spokeswoman Shushan Stepanian.
But Yerevan also formalized the death of 51 additional soldiers of the Nagorno-Karabakh army, bringing the official toll of the clashes to more than 240 dead.
For its part, Azerbaijan has announced that it has reconquered the strategically important village of Madaguiz, which controls the road linking Armenia to Karabakh.
Stepanakert, the separatist capital regularly flown over by Azerbaijani drones and targeted by heavy artillery fire – a first – on Friday, experienced new explosions on Saturday.
And the sirens of the ambulances heading towards Stepanakert echoed in the evening in the Caucasian mountains, according to an AFP journalist.
In Armenia, on the road leading from Yerevan to Goris, a locality bordering Nagorno-Karabakh, volunteers, ordinary citizens behind the wheel of their vehicles, went to the combat zone to evacuate families driven out by the bombardments to the Armenian capital.
Nagorno-Karabakh, mostly populated by Armenians, seceded from Azerbaijan after the fall of the USSR, leading to a war in the early 1990s that left 30,000 dead. The front has been almost frozen since despite regular clashes.
For the president of the separatist territory, Arayik Haroutiounian, who announced on Saturday his departure to the front to fight with his troops, the
last battle for Nagorno-Karabakh has started.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev insisted on the withdrawal of Armenian forces from
We are going to take back our territories, it is our legitimate right and our historical objective, he said in an interview with Al Jazeera television station.
Since the start of hostilities on September 27, partial reports have reported 242 dead: 209 Karabakh soldiers, 14 Armenian civilians, and 19 Azerbaijani civilians, Baku not communicating its military losses.
The toll could be much heavier, Yerevan claiming that 3,000 Azerbaijani soldiers are dead and Baku claiming to have killed 2,300 Armenian soldiers.
Both sides have largely ignored calls from the international community to silence the guns. Moscow, Washington and Paris, capitals of the three countries involved in mediating this conflict under the aegis of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), have also called for a ceasefire, without success.
A neighboring country to Armenia and Azerbaijan, Iran on Saturday warned against any
intrusion in its territory, after mortars hit Iranian villages along the border.
Jihadists from Syria
Another area of concern is the deployment of Proturc fighters from Syria in support of Azerbaijani troops. Ankara is an unwavering ally of Baku and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is also insisting on the departure of Armenian troops from Nagorno-Karabakh.
On Saturday, Ilham Aliev thanked Mr. Erdogan and the
fraternal turkish people for their
support, in a letter made public by the Azerbaijani Presidency.
Baku ensures, however, that no foreign military fights alongside its troops.
Azerbaijan doesn't need itAzerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Fariz Rzayev told Russian news agency TASS on Saturday.
French President Emmanuel Macron had previously claimed that 300 fighters
jihadists had left Syria to join Azerbaijan.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH), some 64 pro-Ankara fighters have died in Nagorno-Karabakh since the start of hostilities. In total, Turkey has dispatched 1,200 fighters from Syria to the combat zone, in support of the Azerbaijani army, says this NGO.
The NGO had previously reported a figure of 850 combatants, sent for a week.
At least 36 of these Syrian rebels have perished in the past 48 hours, added OSDH, bringing the death toll to 64.
Since the start of hostilities, Armenia has accused Turkey of sending
mercenaries Syrians in Nagorno-Karabakh. She has not officially commented on these allegations.
Since September 27, heavy fighting has raged in Nagorno-Karabakh, mostly populated by Armenians, which seceded from Azerbaijan, leading to a war in the early 1990s that claimed 30,000 lives. The front had been almost frozen since despite regular clashes.
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