Fighting in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region in western Azerbaijan entered its third day on Tuesday, September 29, with clashes between Armenian-backed separatists loyal to the self-proclaimed Artsakh Republic and Azerbaijani forces reported overnight. Armenian sources reported that Azerbaijan had launched a large-scale offensive in the southern and northeastern sectors of the front line on Monday evening, as officials of the Artsakh Republic announced a further 26 fatalities amongst Armenian servicemembers. At least 95 people have been killed since clashes broke out on Sunday, September 27, including 11 civilians and 84 Armenian soldiers. Hundreds more have been injured. Of the civilian casualties, nine have been reported in Azerbaijani-controlled territory and two in Armenian-controlled areas. Azerbaijan has yet to release military casualty figures, although Armenian officials claim hundreds of Azerbaijani soldiers have been killed or injured.
Further clashes in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region are highly likely over the near term. Clashes along the length of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border outside the Nagorno-Karabakh region cannot be ruled out. A heightened security presence and disruptions to transportation are expected.
The latest round of hostilities erupted on Sunday, September 27, when Azerbaijani forces reportedly carried out strikes on settlements in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, including the regional capital Stepanakert, causing at least two civilian fatalities. Residents of the area have been instructed to seek refuge in shelters. Following a retaliation by separatist forces, Azerbaijan launched what it claims to be a 'counter-offensive' in response. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have used heavy weaponry and reported casualties and material losses. Both sides have released footage claiming to show the destruction of enemy armored vehicles and installations. A state of war, martial law, and mobilization have been declared in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh.
Armenia and neighboring Azerbaijan have a long-standing dispute over the possession of Nagorno-Karabakh, home to some 150,000 inhabitants (mostly ethnic Armenians) and located in the west of Azerbaijan. This issue has fueled tensions between the two countries since 1988; some 30,000 people were killed in fighting from 1990 to 1994. The two countries declared another ceasefire in April 2016 after the region experienced four days of violent clashes that left hundreds dead.
Tensions between the two countries remain high and each side frequently accuses the other of violating the ceasefire agreement.
Western governments generally advise their citizens against all travel to Nagorno-Karabakh and the Azerbaijan-Armenia border. Those in Armenia are advised to monitor developments and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
Copyright and Disclaimer