Despite a recent cease-fire deal, Armenian separatists have continued attacking Azerbaijani forces and civilians as the number of victims continues to rise.
Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that Armenian forces staged night attacks in a bid to recapture previously lost positions.
According to the ministry, while repelling the attacks, the Azerbaijan military destroyed three Grad type multiple launch rocket systems (MLRSs), one ZSU-23-4 self-propelled anti-aircraft weapon system, two BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), three Giatsint B howitzers, one D-20 type howitzer, three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and a few personnel carriers, neutralizing many Armenian soldiers in the process.
Apart from regular troops from different Armenian Army regiments, volunteers participated in the night attacks conducted by small groups, but suffered heavy human and material losses, the statement added.
The Azerbaijani military has acted in compliance with the cease-fire and has not conducted any war maneuvers, it underlined.
In a separate statement, the ministry also stated that Armenian forces had opened fire on residential areas in Azerbaijan's Aghjabadi, Aghdam, Tartar and Goranboy provinces.
As the attacks by the Armenian separatists continue, the number of victims continues to increase.
Later on the same day, Azerbaijan’s Prosecutor General’s Office said 42 Azerbaijani civilians have lost their lives, while 206 others sustained injuries in Armenian forces’ attacks on civilian settlements.
In a statement, the office said 479 houses, 66 apartments and 241 public buildings were destroyed in the attacks carried out by Armenia from Sept. 27 to Oct. 13.
Following meetings in Moscow on Oct. 10, Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed on a humanitarian cease-fire so that conflicting sides could retrieve bodies left on the battlefield in Nagorno-Karabakh and hold prisoners' exchange.
The cease-fire did not survive even for a full day, as Yerevan launched a missile attack against civilians on Azerbaijan's second-largest city, Ganja on Sunday.
Despite the decision to cease hostilities, Armenian forces launched a missile strike on Azerbaijan’s second-largest city, Ganja – despite the region being outside the frontline zone – leaving at least 10 dead and 35 others wounded, including women and children.
ICRC preparing for the exchange
Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced that it is working on an operation to facilitate the transfer of the bodies of those killed in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as well as the release of detainees.
"The ICRC is ready to ease handover of bodies of those killed in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the release of detainees, but the sides need to agree on the format between themselves," Martin Schuepp, ICRC Eurasia regional director, told a news briefing in Geneva said.
The envoy noted that the committee was "passing proposals back and forth" but an operational and logistical arrangement would be necessary in addition to guarantees on the safety of the ICRC teams for such an operation to take place.
Turkish gov’t, opposition back Azerbaijan
As Turkey and Azerbaijan enjoy the highest level of cooperation and brotherly ties in line with their broad “one nation, two states” policy championed by officials from both countries, the former continues to support the latter in every possible way while supportive statements have been voiced by both Turkish government and opposition parties.
In a phone call with European Council Chairman Charles Michel on Monday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan touched upon the tensions in the Caucasus and called upon the EU to have a coherent stance on Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. He noted that the invading Armenian forces’ attacks on pipelines threaten Europe’s energy security.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahçeli urged an end to the illegal Armenian occupation.
"Trying to find solutions at the negotiations table without the withdrawal of the terrorist state of Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh and ending the fighting before Azerbaijan has received its territories under illegal occupation mean legitimizing murder and oppression," Bahçeli said.
The chairperson also warned the separatist Armenian forces against any possible aggression.
"It would be wise for those who target Baku to not forget the fact that they would suddenly have to pay a price in Yerevan, for their well-being and safety," he said.
On the other hand, chairman of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said that Armenia was committing "war crimes" and "terror."
"For the sake of stopping the bloodshed, Armenia should withdraw from the Azerbaijani territories it holds under occupation. But it does not do this, and bombs the civilians instead. This is a crime against humanity, this is terror," he said.
Chairperson of the opposition Good Party (IP) Meral Akşener also blasted the Armenian occupation.
"We are following with concern the attacks by Armenia on our civilian brothers. The international community should get to know this monstrosity, which drops bombs on civilians in Ganja hours after the cease-fire began," she said.
"Turkey should always side with Azerbaijan," Akşener added.
The clashes began on Sept. 27 when Armenian forces targeted civilian Azerbaijani settlements and military positions in the region, leading to casualties.
Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh.
Some 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory has remained under illegal Armenian occupation for some three decades.
Four U.N. Security Council (UNSC) and two U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions, as well as many international organizations, demand the withdrawal of the occupying forces.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group – co-chaired by France, Russia and the United States – was formed in 1992 to find a peaceful solution to the conflict but to no avail. A cease-fire, however, was agreed to in 1994.
Many world powers, including Russia, France, and the U.S., have urged a new cease-fire.
Turkey, meanwhile, has supported Baku's right to self-defense and demanded the withdrawal of occupying Armenian forces.
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