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Erdogan hopes Azerbaijan will continue offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh until disputed region is free from ‘Armenian occupation’

Erdogan hopes Azerbaijan will continue offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh until disputed region is free from ‘Armenian occupation’
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country will stand with Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh, calling on Baku to continue its assault and re-take control of the region.

Erdogan reiterated Ankara’s “full support” for its ally during his Friday speech at the inauguration of a city hospital in the central Turkish province of Konya.

“The brotherly state of Azerbaijan has started a great operation both to defend its own territories and to liberate the occupied Karabakh,” he said. “Turkey stands with and will continue to stand with friendly and brotherly Azerbaijan with all our means and all our heart.”

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Erdogan’s statement comes hours after the violence intensified in Nagorno-Karabakh with the region’s capital, Stepanakert enduring artillery strikes which left scores of people wounded, according to Armenian sources.

An intense military confrontation between Yerevan and Baku broke out on September 27. The two sides clashed over territory which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is populated by ethnic Armenians who have been de-facto independent from Baku, with support from Yerevan, for three decades. 

The conflict had been in a semi-frozen state since the early 1990s. While it saw several major flare-ups - occurring in 2014, 2016, and in July of this year - the current escalation marked with casualties on both sides is the most serious for over twenty-five years.

Ankara declared its unwavering support for the “brotherly” nation of Azerbaijan at the beginning of the standoff, offering both military and diplomatic assistance. It also dismissed calls for peace by Moscow, Washington, and Paris on Thursday, reiterating that the withdrawal of Armenian forces from Nagorno-Karabakh is a precondition for a ceasefire.

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Armenia has repeatedly accused the Turkish military of aiding the Azeri army and even directly engaging and shooting down Armenian military aircraft – something that Ankara has denied.

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