TVI Special Report
ISLAMABAD — The situation remains tense along the Line of Control between Azerbaijan and Armenia as Armenia forces continued shelling despite a cease-fire announced by Azerbaijan.
The head of the Defense Ministry Media Section of Azerbaijan Vagif Dyargyahly said that the Azerbaijani side has decided to stop all unilateral military operations on the contact line in Nagorno-Karabakh, adding that if the Armenian side will continue provocative activity “Baku response will be tough.”
According to reports from Azerbaijan the Armenian forces resumed shelling and firing with heavy weapons including with artillery and machine guns. A short battle resulted in the deaths of more 30 soldiers from both sides.
On April 2, 2016 Armenia targeted several densely populated civilian residential areas adjacent to the frontline area opened intensive heavy weapons fire at the positions of Azerbaijan’s armed forces along the line of contact. President Ilham Aliyev has vowed to abide by cease-fire but has threatened to respond if Armenia continues to violate it.
According to report as a result of continued artillery attacks of Armenian armed forces a number of civilians were killed and seriously wounded. The Armenian provocations also caused substantial damages to private and public properties.
Reports from Armenia disclosed that several hundred Armenian “para-military” men were being reinforced along the occupied areas of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Armenia also deployed additional rocket and artillery forces and its military helicopters conduct intensive shuttle flights between occupied territories and Armenia. Armenia has also rejected world leaders’ initiatives including that of OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to derail the negotiation process.
Azerbaijan has long been calling on the international community to demand and press Armenia to the illegally-occupied Azerbaijan’s territories of Nagorno-Karabakh which is about 21 percent of Azerbaijan.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General expressed extreme concern over the escalation of tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh and called on both the parties involved in a conflict for an immediate cease fire and to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation.
In this context, Ban Ki-moon reiterated the full support of the OSCE Minsk Group and all parties working to resolve this dangerous situation and pursuing a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through negotiations.
Meanwhile according to reports from Russian media Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsian has ordered the foreign ministry to “draft a treaty on mutual military assistance with Nagorno-Karabakh.”
The move is regarded as dangerously provocative as it could justify the illegal collaboration between Armenia and pro-Armenian elements in Nagorno-Karabakh and spark off a full-scale war.
History of the Nagorno-Karabakh
Nagorno-Karabakh is under illegal occupation of Armenian forces backed by Russia for the last twenty years and negotiations have failed to convince the Armenians to return the territory back to Azerbaijan.
Nagorno-Karabakh which has declared as self-style “Republic” is has not been recognized by any of the UN member states except by Abkhazia and South Ossetia territories backed by Moscow and Armenia.
The highland region of Nagorno-Karabakh (Mountainous Karabakh) belonged to Azerbaijan but with a considerable size of Armenian-speaking population. Armenia interfered in the territory and inter-ethnic tensions developed followed by violence under former USSR. In 1988, Armenian forces helped the local pro-Armenia forces in Nagorno-Karabakh and resulting in a separate administration there. The clashes between rival forces continued until 1994 when a ceasefire was reached after international intervention pending a final solution. But Armenia and its allies backed separatist elements there and despite international calls the territory was not given back to its Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan has since developed very close ties with its traditional ally, Turkey while Armenia continued to receive military and diplomatic backing from Russia. The recent tension between Russia and Turkey over Syria increased threats to Azerbaijan–Armenia tension particularly after Russia decided to deploy S-300 anti-aircraft and missile system in Armenia. Moscow has reportedly approved a loan of $200 million to Armenia for purchase of offensive weapons such as MLRS “Smerch”, anti-aircraft missile complexes “Igla-S”, flamethrower system TOS-1A “Buratino”, the RPG-26, Dragunov sniper rifle, and armored cars “Tiger”.