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19 Sep, 2023 09:41

Azerbaijan announces ‘counter-terrorism measures’ in disputed region

The Defense Ministry in Baku has blamed Armenia for a new escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
Azerbaijan announces ‘counter-terrorism measures’ in disputed region

The Azerbaijani military has launched “counter-terrorism measures of a local nature” in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, it said in a statement on Tuesday. The operation was touted as a way to “thwart large-scale provocations” by the Armenian side.

Baku stated that the goal of the military action was to disable “positions of the Armenian armed forces” and other military targets. It pledged not to attack civilian targets.

The ministry stated that it had informed the command of the Russian peacekeeping force deployed in the region, as well as the Russian-Turkish monitoring mission. It claimed that the operation was meant to enforce the trilateral agreement with Russia and Armenia, which provided the legal grounds for the presence of Russian peacekeepers. The statement accused Armenia of conducting a military build-up in Nagorno-Karabakh and launching sabotage operations against Azerbaijani troops.

Earlier in the day, the Armenian Defense Ministry denied Azerbaijan's claim that its forces had fired on Azerbaijani positions overnight. Baku alleges the incident happened on the border between the two nations in an area located 100km from Nagorno-Karabakh. The recent escalation in tensions between the two sides has seen a number of flare-ups.

Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan in the waning days of the USSR. The predominantly ethnically Armenian population of the region fought a full-scale war for its sovereignty in the 1990s and has been supported by Yerevan since. 

In 2020, a second major conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh erupted, resulting in major bloodshed and Baku gaining control of a significant portion of previously lost territories. A Russian-mediated ceasefire ended the hostilities. 

The government of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has been blaming Moscow for failing to provide Armenia with military support to counter Azerbaijan. Meanwhile, the US has now positioned itself as a security provider for Armenia instead of Russia, Yerevan's traditional ally.