Sunday, December 3, 2023

Azerbaijan says to end operation in Nagorno-Karabakh once “military” lays down arms

Baku will end its "anti-terrorist activities" in Nagorno-Karabakh if Armenian fighters lay down their weapons, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, according to the presidential press service.

“The head of state said that anti-terrorist activities would end if weapons were laid down,” the press service announced in a statement.

Aliyev also stated that Armenian units had to disarm. He stressed that civilians and infrastructure facilities weren’t the target of the anti-terrorist activities and the Azerbaijani Armed Forces were only destroying legitimate military targets.

The Azerbaijani president pointed out that his administration had repeatedly invited representatives of Karabakh’s Armenian population to engage in dialogue to discuss reintegration but they had refused. Still, in Aliyev’s words, they were once again invited to dialogue after the local anti-terrorist activities had been launched.

Aliyev noted that Azerbaijan was forced to start the local anti-terrorist activities in the region “to put an end to the provocative and inflammatory actions of the Armenian side.” In this regard, he mentioned that an Armenian sabotage and reconnaissance group had laid mines in Karabakh, which resulted in the death of civilians and law enforcement officers, while Azerbaijani army units had come under mortar and small-arms fire.

“President Ilham Aliyev emphasized that these activities, as well as the move to hold the so-called presidential election in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan on September 9, were the continuation of deliberate provocative steps by Armenia and the so-called separatist entity that it created and supports, aimed against Azerbaijan’s sovereignty,” the statement added.

According to the Azerbaijani presidential press service, Blinken expressed concern about the situation, called for a ceasefire and said that the US supported direct dialogue between Baku and the Armenian population of Karabakh.

Tensions have flared up again in Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday. Baku announced it was launching what it described as “local anti-terrorist measures” and demanded the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the region. Yerevan, in turn, stressed there were no Armenian forces in Karabakh, calling what was happening “an act of large-scale aggression.”

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement the army successfully continues anti-terrorist activities in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

“The local anti-terrorist activities conducted by the Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the Karabakh economic region successfully continue. Azerbaijan Army Units neutralized combat positions, military vehicles, artillery and anti-aircraft missile launchers, radio-electronic combat stations and other military means belonging to formations of the Armenian armed forces,” the statement read.

Armenia’s ambassador-at-large, Edmon Marukyan, has called on the US to intervene in the renewed fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, asking Washington to defend the region’s civilian population.

“Now, Azerbaijan has started a large-scale aggression and military operation against the peaceful people of Nagorno-Karabakh,” Marukyan wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter).

“It is the US’s turn now as to what measures will be used to stop the aggression and military attack on the trapped and starving people,” he added.

The diplomat appealed to US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, and EU leaders, asking them to condemn Baku.

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