Azerbaijan initiated a series of military strikes targeting the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. This action was coupled with the announcement of the commencement of an "anti-terror" operation. However, this move carries the ominous potential to reignite a conflict in the region, setting the stage for another episode of violence and instability.
The Nagorno-Karabakh region is no stranger to conflict and has long been a point of contention between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Despite being internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory, a significant part of this region is currently under the governance of breakaway ethnic Armenian authorities who assert historical and ancestral ties to the area. This complex geopolitical situation has been the catalyst for two major wars, including the most recent one in 2020, which erupted following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The escalation of tensions with military strikes raises concerns about the potential for a larger-scale conflict in this historically volatile region. As this situation unfolds, the international community will closely monitor developments, hoping to prevent further destabilization and violence.
Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry has officially declared its engagement in military operations employing "high-precision weapons." Their objective is to "incapacitate" Armenian-backed forces and target Armenian military positions in a determined effort to displace "formations of Armenia's armed forces." These actions have significantly heightened tensions in the region.
Social media has been inundated with unverified footage allegedly captured in Stepanakert, the capital of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, known as Khankendi in Azerbaijan. This footage vividly captures the unsettling sounds of heavy shelling and artillery fire, underscoring the intensification of the situation on the ground.
This development has raised serious concerns about the escalation of conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, potentially resulting in severe humanitarian consequences and regional instability.
“At this moment, the capital Stepanakert and other cities and villages are under intensive fire,” an Armenia-based separatist group warned on social media, calling it a “large-scale military offensive.”
Officials in Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, have conveyed that civilians are permitted to evacuate the conflict-affected area through designated humanitarian corridors. They emphatically underscored that "the civilian population and civilian infrastructure are not targets" in this unfolding situation.
For decades, Azerbaijan and Armenia have been embroiled in a protracted dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. While it is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, the area has a predominantly ethnic Armenian population, creating a complex and longstanding source of tension between the two nations.
This ongoing conflict poses significant challenges and raises humanitarian concerns, necessitating close monitoring and international attention.
The violent conflict in 2020, pitting these two former Soviet nations against each other, culminated in Azerbaijan regaining control of a territory of considerable historical significance to Armenians. Despite a Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement designed to quell hostilities, tensions have persistently simmered in the region, marked by ongoing mutual accusations and intermittent reports of artillery barrages.
Armenia has consistently asserted that it maintains no armed forces within the boundaries of Karabakh and has characterized the situation along the Republic of Armenia's borders as "relatively stable." This precarious state of affairs demands continuous attention and international monitoring to prevent further escalation and protect civilian populations.
Image source: Reuters