Azerbaijan on Wednesday vowed to pursue military action against Armenian separatists in the breakaway Nagorno Karabakh region until a full Armenian withdrawal from the disputed territory.
Armenian and Azerbaijani forces are engaged in the heaviest fighting in years over Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian province that broke away from Azerbaijan in the 1990s during the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The long-simmering conflict erupted on Sunday with both sides blaming each other for the outbreak of violence.
“We only have one condition: Armenian armed forces must unconditionally, fully, and immediately leave our lands,” Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in televised remarks.
If “the Armenian government fulfils the demand, fighting and bloodshed will end, and peace will be established in the region,” he added.
— Ilham Aliyev (@presidentaz) September 27, 2020
Earlier Wednesday, Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry said in a statement that Baku was “resolutely determined to continue the counter-offensive operation until its sovereignty and territorial integrity is fully restored… (and) we clearly see the Armenian troops leaving the territory of Azerbaijan.”
On Wednesday, Armenia and Azerbaijan rejected international calls for a halt to fighting and negotiations.
Nearly 100 people are confirmed to have died in the flare-up and both sides are claiming to have inflicted heavy losses on opposing forces.
International pressure for a ceasefire has mounted as fears grow that the conflict could escalate into all-out war.
Karabakh’s declaration of independence from Azerbaijan sparked a war in the early 1990s that claimed 30,000 lives, but it is still not recognized as independent by any country, including Armenia.