At least 68 people were killed in 24 hours in fighting between separatists from Nagorno Karabaj, supported by Armenia, and the troops of Azerbaijan, according to balances announced on Monday, amid fears that an open war between Baku and Yerevan could break out.
The fighting that broke out on Sunday, the deadliest since 2016, caused international unrest and prompted the UN, Russia, France and the United States to call for an immediate ceasefire.
Turkey, for its part, gave its full support to Azerbaijan, for which Armenia accused it of political and military interference in the conflict.
The Defense Ministry of Nagorno Karabak, a secessionist province of Azerbaijan inhabited mostly by Armenians, acknowledged the death of 32 soldiers since the start of hostilities.
Five Azerbaijani civilians and two Armenian civilians from Karabakh were also killed, bringing the death toll to 39.
Azerbaijan lost control of Nagorno Karabakh after the collapse of the Soviet Union and after a war that left 30,000 dead and ended with a ceasefire signed in 1994.
At the moment, Azerbaijan did not report any military casualties.
However, the balance could be more serious since the two camps claim to have inflicted hundreds of losses on the adversary, broadcasting in particular images of destroyed armor.
Baku claims to have killed 550 enemy soldiers and Yerevan claims to have eliminated more than 200.
The Nagorno Karabakh Defense Ministry further claimed that it had regained lost positions on Sunday.
For its part, Azerbaijan claimed that it had conquered more territories.
The Azerbaijani Armed Forces “attacked enemy positions with rockets, artillery and aviation” and “took various strategic positions in and around the town of Talych. The enemy is backing away, ”said the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry.
In recent years, Azerbaijan has allocated a significant part of its oil revenues to the purchase of weapons.
After several weeks of war rhetoric, Azerbaijan said it launched a major “counteroffensive” in response to an Armenian “aggression”, resorting to artillery, armored vehicles and aircraft against the province controlled by Armenian separatists.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan accused his historical enemy of having “declared war on the Armenian people”, while yesterday’s Babiyan President Ilham Aliyev promised “to win.”
The president of the self-proclaimed republic of Nagorno Karabakh, Arayik Harutyunyan, stated on his side that “Turkey, not Azerbaijan” fights against secessionist territory. “There are helicopters, F-16s (planes) and troops and mercenaries from different countries,” he said.
Moscow, which maintains cordial relations with the two belligerents and is the regional arbiter, feels closer to Armenia, which is part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-dominated military alliance.
All mediation efforts to resolve this conflict have failed and Armenia and Azerbaijan already fought on their northern border last July in the most serious combats since 2016, which raised fears of destabilization in the region.
The two states decreed martial law and Armenia general mobilization. Azerbaijan imposed a curfew on parts of the country, including the capital Baku.