TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Ali Akbar Velayati, an international adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, has called on Armenia to withdraw its forces from the regions it has occupied in Azerbaijan.
In an interview with Iranian daily Kayhan, Velayati touched on the new flare-up in armed clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Karabakh, saying there is no military solution to the conflict.
He cited Armenia’s occupation of seven Azerbaijani cities and four UN resolutions calling for withdrawal of Armenians from the occupied territories and their return to the internationally accepted boundaries.
"We call on Armenia to return those occupied parts to the Republic of Azerbaijan. More than one million Azeris have been displaced after the occupation of those areas and must return home soon,” Velayati said.
The Leader’s adviser underlined that Iran takes the same stance on the Karabakh conflict that it has adopted on the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.
But the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan has no military solution whatsoever, and must be resolved politically, Velayati stressed.
"Iran is opposed to any military action from any side, because people would be the only losers in a war.”
Velayati deplored attacks on residential areas, saying the war is against the interests of the two countries and detrimental to regional security.
Velayati further criticized the meddling of outside parties in the conflict, including by Turkey and the occupying regime of Israel.
"Why is Turkey insisting on the continuation of war? It must help end the war if it can do so, provided that the occupied cities of the Republic of Azerbaijan are liberated definitely,” he said.
He also said the illegitimate Zionist regime which is founded upon the occupation of Palestine has no right to comment on the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani told his Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev by telephone that Tehran valued regional peace and supported preserving the territorial integrity of neighbors.
"The issue of peace in the region is very important and, of course, the territorial integrity of our neighbours also has great importance
to us,” Rouhani was quoted as telling Aliyev by the Dolat website.
Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami on Tuesday warned that Tehran would take measures stronger than warnings if shells fired in the fighting continued to land in Iranian territories.
Speaking to reporters in Mashhad, the defense minister said Iran has already given Armenia and Azerbaijan "serious warning” after several mortar shells landed in border areas populated by Iranian Azerbaijanis in northwest Iran.
Iran’s Minister of Interior Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli also warned the two countries not to harm Iran’s security.
"We have advised and warned the neighboring states that we would by no means tolerate insecurity, interference, or any other measure damaging the security of our people in those regions.”
Battles raged between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces on Tuesday, with both sides vowing to pursue the conflict despite increasing international pressure for a ceasefire.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu landed in Azerbaijan for talks after Russia, the United States and France on Monday called for an "unconditional” halt to the fighting.
The battles began on September 28 in a long-simmering territorial dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, an Azerbaijani territory which is controlled by forces supported by Armenia after ethnic Armenians rebelled in the 1990s.
Neither side has shown any inclination to slow hostilities despite a mounting civilian death toll.
The conflict has expanded in the last few days with shelling on big cities, including the regional capital Khankendi and Azerbaijan’s second-largest city, Ganja.
Azerbaijan’s defense ministry claimed that separatists had incurred major losses and were forced to retreat. It said an ammunition depot near Khankendi, rocket launchers and artillery had been destroyed.
The two sides have reported 265 deaths since the fighting erupted, including more than 45 civilians, but the real total is expected to be much higher as both sides are claiming to have inflicted heavy military casualties.
Most of the confirmed deaths are from the Armenian side, which has reported nearly 220 fatalities among separatist fighters. Azerbaijan is not releasing any figures on its military deaths. Karabakh’s declaration of secession from Azerbaijan during the collapse of the Soviet Union sparked a war in the early 1990s that claimed 30,000 lives.