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Azerbaijan hits Armenia missile site amid shaky cease-fire

October 14, 2020

The warring countries had agreed to pause hostilities over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region just days ago. Russia is calling for both sides to heed the terms of the cease-fire.

Azerbaijan troops in the Nagorno-Karabakh
Image: Sergei Bobylev/TASS/dpa/picture-alliance

Azerbaijan on Wednesday claimed that it hit two missile launch sites in Armenia, amid a bout of fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh regions.

Azerbaijan claimed that a ballistic missile system and a rocket system at the sites were targeting civilian areas.

Armenia's defense ministry confirmed that sites within Armenia had been struck.

It said it "reserves the right to target any military installations and combat movements on the territory of Azerbaijan."

A cease-fire between the warring neighbors was agreed on Saturday after 10 hours of talks, brokered by Russia.

Both sides have since claimed the other has violated the agreement.

Fighting broke out on September 27. Since then, more than 400 people have been killed in fighting over the contested region. Nagorno-Karabakh is officially part of Azerbaijan, but under control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since the end of a separatist war in 1994. 

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu appealed for the Azeri and Armenian defense ministers to "fully meet the commitments" of the humanitarian ceasefire.

Targeting civilian areas?

The missile launch systems were deployed in areas of Armenia bordering the Kalbajar district of Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The first launch site was aiming at the Azerbaijani cities of Ganja, Mingachevir and other populated areas, according to claims from the Azerbaijani defense ministry. 

However, Armenia denied that was targeting civilians. "The attack was carried out based on the mere assumption that the subject equipment was allegedly going to strike at Azerbaijan's civilian settlements," defense ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan said on Twitter.

Read more: Nagorno-Karabakh's record growth in ruins amid conflict and pandemic

two Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jets n the air
Armenian-backed separatists in the Nagorno-Karabakh claim to have shot down an Azeri Su-25 fighter jet.Image: Alexey Kudenko/Sputnik/dpa/picture-alliance

Clashes continue

Throughout Wednesday, both Azerbaijan and Armenia claimed the other side was violating cease-fire terms and engaging in provocations.

Azeri President Ilham Aliyev Wednesday said that Azerbaijan was continuing a military operation to free territory in Nagorno-Karabakh, Russian news agency Interfax reported. Aliyev also accused Armenia of trying to attack its gas and oil pipelines, in an interview with Turkish broadcaster Haberturk. He warned of a "severe" response.

Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Vovayi Pashinyan gave an address to the nation, calling for Azerbaijan and its supporter, Turkey, "to stop their aggression."

The Nagorno-Karabakh defense ministry accused Azeri forces of launching artillery and rocket attacks in several areas.

Defense officials in the enclave said their forces had shot down an Azeri Su-25 fighter jet, a claim Azerbaijan has rejected.

Turkey arms sales

Meanwhile, details have emerged regarding an upsurge in Turkey's military exports to Azerbaijan in recent months.

Arms sales from Ankara to its ally have risen six-fold this year, with sales of drones and other military equipment rising to $77 million (€65.5 million) last month alone, prior to the outbreak of conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

The data compiled by the Turkish Exporters' Assembly, which groups more than 95,000 exporting firms across 61 sectors, shows Azerbaijan bought $123 million worth of defense and aviation equipment from Turkey during the first nine months of 2020.

kmm, jsi/aw (AFP, Reuters)