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Ready to stop operation if Armenians lay down arms: Azerbaijan president

20.09.23 13:24

The Azerbaijani president has told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Baku is ready to stop “anti-terrorist measures” if Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh lay down their weapons, according to a statement published by the Azerbaijani presidency.

He told Blinken that the military incursion was triggered by Armenian armed forces laying mines in the contested region “for the purpose of terrorism” and targeting Azerbaijani soldiers with mortars and other weapons.

“President Ilham Aliyev stressed that these actions … were a continuation of deliberate provocations against the sovereignty of Azerbaijan by Armenia and the so-called separatist entity established and supported by it,” read the statement.

Azerbaijan says military measures ‘continues successfully’

Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defence says military measures “continue successfully” in its Nagorno-Karabakh region with weaponry and military equipment destroyed.

Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh said fighting was continuing with varying intensity.

Since Azerbaijan began its operation on Tuesday against separatists in Armenian-majority Nagorno-Karabakh, at least 27 people have been killed and 200 wounded, Armenians said.

Residents of some villages have been evacuated, they said.

Russian news agencies cited the Azeri government as saying President Ilham Aliyev has told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Azerbaijan would halt its operation only after Armenian fighters lay down their weapons and surrender.

What is Nagorno-Karabakh and why are tensions rising again?

Nagorno-Karabakh, known as Artsakh by Armenians, is a landlocked mountainous area in the South Caucasus.

It was claimed by both Azerbaijan and Armenia after the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917 and has remained a point of tension ever since.

The territory is internationally recognised as part of oil-rich Azerbaijan, but its inhabitants are predominantly ethnic Armenians and have their own government, which has enjoyed close links to the government in neighbouring Armenia but has not been officially recognised by it or other United Nations member states.

Armenians, who are Christians, claim a long historical dominance in the area, dating back to several centuries before Christ.

Azerbaijan, whose inhabitants are mostly Muslim, links its historical identity to the territory, too. It accuses the Armenians of driving out Azeris who lived nearby in the 1990s. It wants to gain full control over the enclave, suggesting ethnic Armenians take Azeri passports or leave.