Sunday saw huge clashes erupt between the armies of Armenia and Azerbaijan along the already militarized and disputed Nagorno-Karabakh border region. An official state of war in the region has been declared by Yerevan.
“Early in the morning, around 7 a.m. the Azerbaijani forces launched a large-scale aggression, including missile attacks…” Armenia’s Defense Ministry stated Sunday. Armenia has since reportedly declared martial law and a “total military mobilization” in what looks to be the most serious escalation between the two countries in years.
Air and artillery attacks from both sides ramped up, with each side blaming the other for the start of hostilities, while international powers urge calm. Crucially, civilians have already been killed on either side by indiscriminate shelling. At least a dozen soldiers on either side have also been reported killed.
Armenia’s high command has ordered all troops throughout the country to muster and report to their bases: “I invite the soldiers appointed in the forces to appear before their military commissions in the regions,” a statement said.
Armenia’s military has released footage of significant tank warfare in progress. The below is said to be Armenian army forces destroying Azerbaijani tanks:
And here’s more from Sunday’s fighting:
The recent conflict hearkens back to 2016, but before that to post-Soviet times. Christian Armenia and Muslim Azerbaijan fought a war at that time in which at least 200 people were killed over Armenian ethnic breakaway Nagorno Karabakh, which declared independence in 1991, despite being internationally recognized as within Azerbaijan territory.
The first war for the territory finished in 1994, but the region has been militarized since, amid sporadic shelling.
Dozens of civilians have already been injured Sunday in the major flare-up of fighting, as CNN reports:
While Armenia said it was responding to missile attacks launched by its neighbor Sunday, Azerbaijan blamed Armenia for the clashes.
In response to the alleged firing of projectiles by Azerbaijan, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan tweeted that his country had “shot down 2 helicopters & 3 UAVs, destroyed 3 tanks.”
Multiple dramatic battlefield videos are circulating on social media confirming the large-scale deployment of tanks, artillery units, and airpower. Multiple Azerbaijani soldiers have been reported killed, but it’s as yet unclear what casualty numbers could be.
Turkey’s role in new fighting is attracting scrutiny. Its foreign ministry blamed Armenia and called for it to halt military operations, however, it hardly appears to be a mere outside or ‘neutral’ observer, given new widespread reportsTurkey has transferred ‘Syrian rebel’ units to join the fighting on Azerbaijan’s side.
These reports of Turkish supplied Syrian mercenaries began days ago, in what regional analysts predicted would be a huge escalation in hostilities in the Caucuses.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan late in the day slammed Turkey’s meddling in the conflict. Ankara had called Armenia “an obstacle” to peace after the fresh hostilities broke out. Yerevan has now formally confirmed Turkey is supplying fighters.
Given the number of vital oil and gas infrastructure facilities and pipelines in the region, impact on global markets could be seen as early as Monday.
“At least 16 military and several civilians were killed on Sunday 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,” Reuters reports.
Azerbaijan has also declared an official state of martial law while clashes between the armies are unfolding.
Meanwhile footage has emerged showing Armenia’s nationwide mustering of its national and reserve forces:
Unverified footage of frontline fighting into the night:
“Pipelines shipping Caspian oil and natural gas from Azerbaijan to the world pass close to Nagorno-Karabakh,” Reuters reports. “Armenia also warned about security risks in the South Caucasus in July after Azerbaijan threatened to attack Armenia’s nuclear power plant as possible retaliation.”
The fighting is expected to grow fiercer along front lines in the disputed region into the night as the prospect of a full ‘state of war’ is looming between the historic rivals.