Baku/Tbilisi, Sep 30 (efe-epa).- Clashes between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces in the Nagorno-Karabakh region entered their fourth day Wednesday with no sign of a let-up in the fighting.
Nagorno-Karabakh is considered by the international community to be part of Azerbaijan but has been de facto administered by ethnic Armenians since the end of the war that broke out after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The clashes that erupted over the enclave on Sunday, which left over 100 dead, were the most violent since the Four Day War in 2016.
“The intense battles of the Azerbaijani Army for the liberation of our occupied lands continue,” a statement by the Azeri Ministry of Defense said. “Currently, military operations are underway along the entire front.”
The ministry added: “The enemy, which had mobilized additional forces (…) to retake lost positions, attempted to attack in the early hours of September 30. This activity of the enemy was prevented and a counter-offensive operation is being carried out by our troops in order to break its resistance.”
Armenia, on the other hand, denounced the Azeribaijani bombings — using “Turkish-made” drones — on Armenian positions in the north of Nagorno-Karabakh, denying Baku’s account of the raids.
“The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense is confused and attributes the number of its own losses per day to the Armenian forces,” Shushan Stepanyan, Armenia’s defence ministry press secretary, wrote on Facebook.
“The enemy air force operates at a standoff distance (…) Air-to-surface long-range missiles are being used,” she added.
Armenian authorities on Tuesday claimed one of its Soviet-manufactured SU-25 warplanes was downed by a Turkish F-16 jet, killing the pilot.
Turkey is one of Azerbaijan’s closest allies and has backed Baku’s bid to take Nagorno-Karabakh from the separatist Yerevan-backed government currently in control of the enclave.
Armenia on the other hand falls into Russia’s sphere of influence.
The conflicting casualty tolls cannot yet be verified.
Armenia’s prime minister Nikol Pashinyan, meanwhile, rejected a proposal for a tripartite peace summit with Russia and Azerbaijan to resolve the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“Negotiations require an appropriate atmosphere and conditions,” he told a press conference in Yerevan on Wednesday.
The origins of the Armenian-Azeribaijani conflict in the region has its roots in the Soviet Union, when at the end of the 1980s Nagorno-Karabakh, predominantly populated by ethnic Armenians, requested unification with Armenia.
The dispute triggered a war that lasted into the 1990s and left more than 25,000 dead.
When a ceasefire was settled in 1994, ethnic Armenians remained in control of the disputed territory and occupied the Azeri land between Nagorno-Karabakh and the rest of Armenia. EFE-EPA