Armenia: Armenian-backed forces in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh enclave said they struck a military airport in Azerbaijan’s second-largest city on Sunday in a major escalation of the fighting between the two South Caucasus neighbors.
Azeri President Ilham Aliyev’s office said the missiles that hit Ganca came from Armenia, which the Defense Ministry in Yerevan denied.
Nagorno-Karabakh said it attacked the military airport in Ganca in retaliation for Azerbaijan’s bombing of Stepanakert, the largest city in the enclave. The president of the disputed territory warned that from now on “large, permanent military objects deployed in Azerbaijan’s big cities are targets.”
Azeri Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov described the attack as an “open provocation” by Armenia that “expands the theater of conflict.” Armenia and Azerbaijan on Saturday set seemingly impossible terms for agreeing to cease-fire calls from the U.S., France and Russia.
Aliyev, who is backed by Turkey, has vowed to continue the military campaign until Armenian forces leave Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts that were taken during a war after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991. The violence that began a week ago is more intense and widespread than at any time since Russia brokered a 1994 cease-fire to halt the war that killed about 30,000 and displaced more than a million people.
The confrontation adds to tensions between Russia and Turkey over proxy conflicts in Syria and Libya. Russia has an army base in Armenia and the two nations have a mutual-defense pact that doesn’t cover the disputed territory.
-With assistance from Henry Meyer. -Bloomberg