Azerbaijan launched a military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday, September 19, and demanded the “total and unconditional” withdrawal of its Armenian adversary, with whom it has disputed this region for decades. An intervention that once again revives the strong tensions between both countries.
At least 2 civilians killed and 23 injured in military operation
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry spoke Tuesday morning of launching “anti-terrorist operations” to put “the positions of the Armenian armed forces” out of danger.
Armenian separatists present in this enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh claimed that the capital, Stepanakert, and other cities came under “intense fire”, accusing Azerbaijan of carrying out “a large-scale military operation”.
The separatists announced that the fighting left at least 5 dead and 80 injured.
Tensions that resurface the 2020 conflict
Baku justified its operation by the death of four police officers and two Azerbaijani civilians in the explosion of mines at the site of a tunnel under construction between Shusha and Fizouli, two cities in Nagorno Karabakh under Azerbaijani control. Azerbaijani security services believe that a group of Armenian separatist “saboteurs” planted these mines, committing an act of “terrorism.”
Azerbaijani authorities also accused the Armenian army of wounding two Azerbaijani soldiers during mortar and small arms fire in northeastern Karabakh, and of shooting at night with small arms towards Azerbaijani positions in the Gadabay district, on the border between two countries.
Azerbaijan also accuses Armenian separatists of having attacked – through radio interference – the GPS system of an Azerbaijani commercial airliner.
The previous conflict, in 2020, resulted in an Armenian military defeat, with Yerevan having to cede territories in and around Nagorno-Karabakh to Baku. A Russian-brokered ceasefire was signed, involving the deployment of Russian peacekeepers, but the belligerents never reached a peace agreement.
Armenia denounces calls for a “coup d’état”
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinan, who convened his Security Council, also denounced calls for a “coup” in Armenia, while television reported hundreds of protesters gathered outside government headquarters.
Yerevan accuses Baku of provoking a humanitarian crisis for the purposes of ethnic cleansing by blocking the Lachin corridor, the only road linking Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia, causing severe shortages of food and medicine. However, tensions had eased somewhat on Monday with the arrival of humanitarian aid to the enclave.
Azerbaijan, which promised on Tuesday afternoon to respect the “rights and security” of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, called on separatist forces to “lay down their arms” with a view to proposing talks.
Paris wants an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council
Azerbaijan said it had informed Russia and Turkey of its operations in the enclave, and Moscow later said it had only been warned “a few minutes” before they began. The “concerned” Kremlin stated through its spokesperson that it was trying to convince Armenia and Azerbaijan to return “to the negotiating table.”
France, through Catherine Colonna, called for “the urgent convening of a meeting of the United Nations Security Council”, condemning the military operation of Azerbaijan, considered “responsible for the fate of its populations.”
“This offensive must stop immediately,” the Foreign Minister wrote on X, former Twitter.
At the same time, the Armenian Prime Minister spoke by phone with Emmanuel Macron about the military operation launched by Azerbaijan and called for a “de-escalation.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he would be in touch with both sides. The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, who in the past led mediation between the two countries, considered that Azerbaijan should “immediately” cease its operation.
Source: BFM TV