Azerbaijan carried out attacks on the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region on Tuesday as it announced the launch of an “anti-terror” operation, a move that threatens to trigger another war in the region.
The country’s Ministry of Defense said It used “high-precision weapons” to “disable” Armenian-backed forces and attack Armenian military positions to drive out “formations of the Armenian Armed Forces.”
Footage allegedly taken in Stepanakert, the capital of Karabakh, which Azerbaijan calls Khankendi, showed the sounds of loud shelling and artillery fire.
“Currently, the capital Stepanakert and other towns and villages are under intense fire,” an Armenia-based separatist group warned on social media, calling it a “large-scale military offensive.”
Officials in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital, said civilians could leave the area via humanitarian corridors and stressed that “civilians and civilian infrastructure are not targets.”
Azerbaijan and Armenia have been fighting for decades over Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but has a predominantly Armenian population.
A bloody war between the two former Soviet rivals in 2020 ended with Azerbaijan reclaiming land of historical significance for Armenians. A Russian-brokered ceasefire deal to end that war did little to ease tensions in the region, as both sides continued to level allegations and regular reports of shelling.
Armenia has said it has no armed forces in Karabakh and said on Tuesday the “situation at the borders of the Republic of #Armenia is relatively stable.”