BAKU: Azerbaijani army, in a response to previous provocation, inflicted strikes on Armenian army’s stronghold, destroying manpower, media reports referring to Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry’s press office.
Starting from noon on July 12, units of the armed forces of Armenia, grossly violating the ceasefire on the Azerbaijani-Armenian state border (Azerbaijan’s Tovuz region), opened artillery fire at Azerbaijani positions. Azerbaijan’s armed response forced the Armenian armed forced to retreat, suffering losses. On the night of July 12-13, tensions continued on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border in the Tovuz district’s direction. In the night battles involving artillery, mortars and tanks, Azerbaijani military divisions destroyed the stronghold, artillery installations, automotive equipment and manpower of the Armenian military unit.
During the battles, the senior lieutenant of the Azerbaijani army, Rashid Mahmudov was killed.
Currently, the situation is under the control of Azerbaijani troops. “The Armenian side hides information about its losses,” said the ministry.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on the withdrawal of its armed forces from Nagorno Karabakh and the surrounding districts.
Agencies add: Several Azeri and Armenian soldiers have been killed and wounded in border clashes, defence ministries of both countries said on Monday, with each accusing the other of encroaching on their territory.
The two former Soviet republics have long been in conflict over Azerbaijan’s breakaway, mainly ethnic Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh, although the latest clashes occurred some 300 km (190 miles) from the mountainous enclave.
The Azeri defence ministry said four of its soldiers were killed and five wounded while Armenia’s ministry said that two of its soldiers were wounded. The two sides traded accusations of ceasefire violations and firing artillery. Exchanges of fire began on Sunday and continued into Monday in the rugged South Caucasus region.
Nagorno-Karabakh, a highland enclave within Azerbaijan, is run by ethnic Armenians who declared independence during a conflict that broke out as the Soviet Union crumbled in 1991.
Though a ceasefire was agreed in 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia continue to accuse each other of shooting attacks around Nagorno-Karabakh and along the separate Azeri-Armenian frontier.
The frozen Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has concerned the international community in part because of its threat to stability in a region that serves as a corridor for pipelines taking oil and gas to world markets.