Azerbaijan launches large-scale military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh (Updated)

Azerbaijan's armed forces on Tuesday (19 September) around 1300 local time, launched a large-scale military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Azerbaijani forces hit military targets with artillery and drones. There are now unconfirmed reports of movement of ground forces. The Azerbaijani government says it is responding to provocations, including an incident last night when several Azerbaijanis were killed as a result of a recently planted landmine. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan convened a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss developments. In a statement, he accused Azerbaijan of trying to embroil Armenia in a large-scale conflict, and said that Azerbaijan was pursuing in Karabakh a policy of ethnic cleansing.

A statement issued by the Azerbaijani foreign ministry stated that "on September 19, the Armenian armed forces in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan resorted to a series of large-scale military provocations and terrorist attacks."

The Armenian government in a statement once more categorically denied that its armed forces were station in Nagorno-Karabakh.

There have been no reports of incidents on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border.

Behind the scenes, there are intensive diplomatic efforts to try to stop the violence from escalating.

In its statement on Tuesday morning, Azerbaijan said that during last night "civilians and military personnel of the Ministry of Internal Affairs were killed and injured as a result of the explosion of mines pre-installed for terrorist purposes on the Ahmedbeyli-Fuzuli-Shusha highway by Armenian intelligence-sabotage groups. In addition, units of our army were fired from mortars and small arms of various calibers. As a result, two servicemen of the Azerbaijan Army were injured. In order to continue such provocations, the Armenian armed forces have strengthened their combat positions and brought their units to a high level of combat readiness. 

 Prevention of large-scale provocations expected by the Armenian armed forces in the Karabakh economic region, as well as ensuring the implementation of the provisions of the Tripartite Declaration, disarming and withdrawing the units of the Armenian armed forces from our territories, neutralizing their military infrastructure, civilians, including civilian workers involved in the reconstruction and reconstruction works in the area and in order to ensure the safety of our military personnel and to restore the constitutional structure of the Republic of Azerbaijan, local anti-terrorist measures have been started in the region."

source: with agencies
photo: screenshot from a video showing an explosion close to Stepanakert