Azerbaijan announced Tuesday morning that it had launched an anti-terrorist operation in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is under Armenian control. The region is populated by mostly ethnic Armenians but is recognized internationally as belonging to Azerbaijan.
Eleven Azerbaijanis, both police officers and civilians were reported killed in a mine blast and one additional incident, and air raid sirens have been reported in Karabakh’s main city Shusha.
Azerbaijan is a close ally of Israel and the two countries maintain strong diplomatic relations and a volume of commerce. Azerbaijan is also considered a potential stopover for Israeli aircraft on their way to attack Iranian nuclear facilities. Armenia and Israel do not have a direct diplomatic relationship and both countries rely on the Republic of Georgia for their communication.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry issued a press release saying, “Systematic shelling of the positions of the Azerbaijan Army by formations of the Armenian armed forces in the Karabakh region, the continuation of mining of our territories, work on engineering improvements to combat positions, as well as an increase in the number of trenches and dugouts in recent months have become the reason for an even greater increase in tension.
“There is also a strengthening of combat positions with personnel, armored vehicles, artillery installations, and other fire weapons, bringing units to a high level of combat readiness, creating additional mobilization units, expanding reconnaissance activities against units of the Azerbaijan Army, penetrating deep into our positions to re-mine areas cleared of mines and civilian roads for sabotage and terrorist purposes.
“On September 19, on the Ahmedbeyli-Fizuli-Shusha highway, as a result of the explosion of a mine, previously installed for terrorist purposes by reconnaissance and sabotage groups of the Armenian armed forces in the Karabakh economic region of Azerbaijan, civilians were killed and a car belonging to the State Highway Agency of Azerbaijan was disabled.
“On the same day, as a result of the explosion of a vehicle transporting servicemen of the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on a mine laid by a reconnaissance and sabotage group of the Armenian Armed Forces, our servicemen were killed and wounded. Such facts are a continuation of the purposeful and systematic terrorist policy of Armenia carried out against Azerbaijan.”
The Second Nagorno-Karabakh War of 2020 took place in the disputed region and the surrounding territories. It was a major escalation of an unresolved conflict involving Azerbaijan, Armenia, and the self-declared Armenian breakaway state of Artsakh. The war lasted for 44 days and resulted in Azerbaijani victory. But post-war skirmishes continued in the region to this day.