Armenian separatist forces of Nagorno-Karabakh and the Azerbaijani army on Sunday intensified the exchange of artillery fire targeting in particular the independence capital and the second city of Azerbaijan, on the eighth day of deadly fighting.
Both sides have also made more bellicose declarations, ignoring the calls for a truce from the majority of the international community, and rejecting responsibility for the conflict.
Since Friday, Stepanakert, the main town in Karabakh, has been the target of strikes, forcing the population to hide in caves and shelters. From the night of Saturday to Sunday, the city has also been deprived of electricity.
Rocket fire resumed with new intensity on Sunday, where sirens sound almost incessantly. The center and the outskirts were hit, and to the northeast, black smoke rose into the sky.
The inhabitants took refuge in the existing shelters, such as the crypt of a church, where several families took refuge in a resigned atmosphere.
Azerbaijani forces target civilian targets, accused the spokesman of the Armenian Ministry of Defense, Arstroun Hovhannissian.
According to local authorities, it was rocket fire. Drones also fly over the city.
The president of the self-proclaimed republic, Araiyk Haroutiounian, announced that in retaliation his forces would now target the military infrastructure of the
big cities of Azerbaijan, located further away from the front, calling on the
civilians to immediately leave these towns.
Soon after, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry announced that the country's second city, Gandja,
is under fire from the Armenian forces. Baku accused Armenia of carrying out the shootings, which Yerevan denies.
Karabakh Presidency spokeswoman Vagram Pogossian claimed the strikes as separatist, and claimed that the military airport had been
This is only the first, he proclaimed.
Azerbaijan also reported rocket attacks on the towns of Terter and Horadiz, in the Fizouli region, from Stepanakert.
On the front, as in previous days, both sides claimed success on various battlefields. Saturday evening, the president of the self-proclaimed republic assured that
the army improved its positions, preparing the ground for advances.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry told him that since the beginning of the fighting on September 27, 14 villages had been conquered, as well as a mountain range described as strategic, the Murovdag.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev announced on Saturday evening on Twitter the conquest in this single day of seven villages.
Regarding the results, still very partial, because Baku does not communicate its military losses, 245 dead were recorded: 209 separatist fighters, 14 civilians from Karabakh and 22 Azerbaijani civilians. But each side claims to have killed more than 2,000 opposing soldiers.
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In conflict for almost 30 years
Ilham Aliev reaffirmed on Sunday that only a withdrawal of Armenian forces from
occupied territories could end the conflict, dating from the 1990s.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said Armenia was facing
at perhaps the most decisive moment in its history contemporary, calling for mobilization for
Nagorny Karabakh, mostly populated by Armenians, seceded from Azerbaijan after the fall of the USSR, leading to a war in the early 1990s which has left 30,000 dead and regular clashes since.
Both sides blame each other for the resumption of hostilities which took place on September 27, one of the most serious, if not the most serious, crisis since the 1994 ceasefire, which raises fears of an open war between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
An open war between the two former Soviet countries of the South Caucasus gives rise to fears of a major destabilization, multiple powers competing in the region: Russia, traditional regional arbiter, Turkey, allied with Azerbaijan, Iran or even Westerners.
Ankara is already accused of adding fuel to the fire by encouraging Baku to go on the military offensive and is strongly suspected of having deployed Syrian Proturc mercenaries in Karabakh. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH), at least 64 of them have been killed in this territory since the start of the fighting.