Live Updates: Azerbaijan launches invasion against Armenia
Justin Haggerty | The Daily Knight
* Azerbaijan awakens military tensions with Armenia in July over Nagorno-Karabakh region
* Azerbaijan invasion endanger oil and gas supplies from the region
* Turkish military and President Erdogan support Azerbaijan resolve
* Russia, France urge both sides to stop firing, hold talks (Adds statement from U.S. State Department)
YEREVAN, ARMENIA - Reuters reports that "at least 16 military and several civilians were killed on Sunday [along with over 550 wounded] in the heaviest clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan since 2016, reigniting concern about stability in the South Caucasus, a corridor for pipelines carrying oil and gas to world markets."
Azerbaijan’s parliament on Sunday declared a state of war with Armenia, mentioning border violations and attacks in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The recent encroachment is a continuation of aggression and saber-rattling by Azerbaijan and their ally Turkey. In June, the Armenian National Committee of America stated that "despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and UN’s global ceasefire appeal -- which Armenia endorsed and Azerbaijan refused to sign -- Azerbaijan launched a military offensive against Armenia starting on July 12, deploying tanks, heavy artillery, and drones against civilian and military targets alike."
On July 12th and 13th, Azerbaijani forces attacked Armenia's northern province of Tavush on multiple occasions, with 4 Azerbaijani soldiers killed and 7 Azerbaijani and Armenian soldiers wounded. According to the Republic of Armenia Ministry of Defense, Azerbaijan's intermittent cross-border mortar fire continued for several days. While no Armenian civilian casualties have been reported, targets have included factories and infrastructure.
The Armenia National Committee of America continued about the saber-rattling by Azerbaijan, "the attack also comes less than two months after Azerbaijan’s Armed Forces held large-scale tactical military exercises from May 18th through 22nd." In the announcement about the exercises, the Azerbaijani army stated “massive artillery, air, and high-precision weapons will be fired at the enemy’s operational depth,” calling the exercises “offensive” in nature. The Armenian Defense Ministry condemned the exercises noting that they “exacerbate the security environment in the region, under the conditions of a global imperative for joint actions against the COVID-19 pandemic and despite the call for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to establish a global ceasefire.”
"Azerbaijani sniper attacks on Armenia's Tavush region are an ongoing occurrence, leading to multiple casualties and injuries of both Armenian civilians and military personnel," reported the Armenian National Committee of America. On March 30th a 14-year-old child in the Tavush village of Voskevan and 2 Armenian soldiers were wounded by Azerbaijani fire. On May 13th, civilians in the Tavush village of Berkaber were the target of large caliber weapons.
Futhermore, Azerbaijani military has been condemned for using civilians as human shields, placing artillery close to the village of Dondar Gushchu in the Tovuz district about six miles from the border. Azerbaijan has also launched cyberattacks on Armenian government websites.
Demonstrations were held in Baku with thousands of Azerbaijanis calling for war against Armenia. Protestors were heard chanting, “End the quarantine, start the war. Order us to war. Allahu Akbar.”
With close ethnic and cultural ties with Azerbaijan, Tukey has voiced unconditional support to Baku in the conflict. In fact, Tukey's Foreign Minister declaring, “the Republic of Turkey and the Turkish people are with Azerbaijan with all our capabilities.”
In the most recent assault in Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenian officials stated that "16 of its servicemen had been killed and more than 100 wounded after Azerbaijan launched an air and artillery attack early on Sunday. Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh declared martial law and mobilized the male population."
Reuters reported that Azerbaijan has declared martial law after retaliatory Armenian shelling. Azerbaijan also said its forces had seized control of up to seven villages. Nagorno-Karabakh initially denied this but later acknowledged losing “some positions” and said it had suffered a number of civilian casualties, without giving details.
The invasion prompted a flurry of international diplomacy to reduce the recent tensions between majority Christian Armenia and mainly Muslim Azerbaijan, with Russia and Greece calling for an immediate ceasefire and another regional power, Turkey, saying it would support Azerbaijan.
The U.S. State Department condemned the violence in a statement, calling for an immediate halt to hostilities, but remained reluctant to address any bias. In a possibly related incident, U.S. Secretary of State initiates evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad after increased threats by groups to storm the property and take hostages.
Due to economic investment and military arms deals, Israel appears to support Azerbaijan operations. This position, in addition to Turkey, will be a serious issue with NATO and the United States. European politicians like Geert Wilders has already called for the removal of Turkey from NATO.
Armenia said Azeri forces had attacked civilian targets including Nagorno-Karabakh’s capital, Stepanakert, and promised a “proportionate response," stated Reuters.
“We stay strong next to our army to protect our motherland from Azeri invasion,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan wrote on Twitter.
Azerbaijan denied an Armenian defense ministry statement that said Azeri helicopters and tanks had been destroyed, and accused Armenian forces of launching “deliberate and targeted” attacks along the front line.
“We defend our territory, our cause is right!” Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, said in an address to the nation.