BAKU (Dispatches) – Fighting between Azeri and Armenian forces over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory is continuing despite a recent ceasefire, with the two sides repeatedly accusing each other of violating the truce.
The Armenian Ministry of Defense said in a statement on Wednesday that Azerbaijani forces had hit two Armenian military sites situated on Armenian territory. It said Armenia reserved the right to attack any military facility on Azerbaijani territory.
Azerbaijan had claimed earlier on Wednesday that it had hit two missile launch sites in Armenia that were being used as a base to target civilian areas.
The Armenian Defense Ministry rejected the claim that they were being used to target civilians.
"Those claims by the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan cannot have any grounds. In fact, the military and political leadership of that country allowed itself to take aim at equipment located on the territory of the Republic of Armenia carrying out combat duty, only on the basis of assumptions,” the ministry said.
Armenia and Azerbaijan reached a humanitarian ceasefire on Saturday following 11 hours of Russian-mediated talks in Moscow. The agreement, which aimed to allow an exchange of detainees and the collection of bodies from the battlefield, fell apart on Monday due to reported Armenian shelling of Azerbaijan’s second-largest city of Ganja.
Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry said the shellfire had left at least nine people dead and 33 others wounded, including children, less than 24 hours after the halt to fighting was supposed to take effect.
The spokesperson for the Iranian administration said on Tuesday Iran welcomes any move that would resolve the conflict between the warring sides.
Ali Rabiee said Iran welcomes a lasting ceasefire between the warring sides.
"As we have announced time and again, we welcome any initiative that can stop the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia and establish a ceasefire and prevent the killing of people,” he noted.
"I deem it necessary to express the Iranian government’s concern and regret over the killing of civilians and I stress the need to avoid a repeat of such incidents at a time when the region and the peoples of the regional countries need peace and tranquility more than ever,” said Rabiee.
However, according to exports data Turkey’s military exports to its ally Azerbaijan have risen six-fold this year, with sales of drones and other military equipment rising to $77 million last month alone before fighting broke out over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The figures compiled by the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly, which groups more than 95,000 exporting companies in 61 sectors, show Azerbaijan bought $123 million in defense and aviation equipment from Turkey in the first nine months of 2020.
Most of the purchases of drones, rocket launchers, ammunition and other weapons arrived were after July, when border clashes between Armenian and Azeri forces prompted Turkey and Azerbaijan to conduct joint military exercises.
Fighting between Azeri and ethnic Armenian forces broke out on Sept. 27 over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountain enclave which is recognized internationally as part of Azerbaijan but is governed and populated by ethnic Armenians.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has backed Azerbaijan and said Armenians must withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh.
Ankara, which wants a role in ceasefire talks, says it is not directly involved in the fighting. But Azeri officials have touted their use of Turkish armed drones, which have spearheaded Ankara’s military operations in Syria, Iraq and Libya.