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Iran Press TV

Turkey lambastes Armenia for 'attacks' on civilians in Azerbaijan's Ganja

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 04 October 2020 3:08 PM

Turkey says Armenia's 'attacks' on civilians in the Azerbaijani city of Ganja constitute disregard for laws and regulations amid a recent flare-up of clashes in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

"Armenia's attacks today targeting civilians in Azerbaijan's second-largest city Ganja are a new indicator of its stance that does not recognize the law. We condemn those attacks," said the Turkish Foreign Ministry in a statement on Sunday.

It also accused Armenian forces of "violating all principles of humanitarian law and attacking civilian settlement areas besides the occupied regions, the scene of clashes."

Ankara backs Baku in the decades-long dispute over the ethnic Armenian breakaway region, which Azerbaijan considers under Armenian occupation. Turkey and Azerbaijan have strong relations and both consider themselves "one nation, two states."

Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry has said Armenian forces have been firing rockets in Fizuli in the contested region and that they are also pouring artillery shells from the "occupied territories" on Aghdam and Terter regions.

It also claimed that the "enemy forces" from Armenia had placed Ganja "under fire." The city of more than 330,000 inhabitants is in western Azerbaijan.

Separately, Azerbaijan's presidential aide Hikmet Hajiyev said his country would "destroy military targets directly inside Armenia from which shelling of its population centers is taking place."

He said there were also civilian casualties in another Azeri region, Beylagan, which borders Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenian-backed separatist forces claimed to have destroyed an airbase in Ganja. Yerevan claims that Azerbaijani warplanes have used the base to conduct raiding sorties on Nagorno-Karabakh.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of the Republic of Azerbaijan; it has been under Armenia's control since the early 1990s. The territory declared independence from Azerbaijan in 1991.

The recent clashes – the worst in decades – erupted on September 27, with both Yerevan and Baku accusing each other of provocation. Both sides have suffered fatalities, civilians included.

So far, the main clashes have been between Azerbaijani forces and Armenian-backed separatist forces of Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian enclave inside Azerbaijan.

However, as fighting escalates, concern is that it will turn into a direct war with Armenia.

The intensifying conflict also threatens to drag in other regional powers as Azerbaijan is fully supported by Turkey, while Armenia has signed a defense deal with Russia.

"Those attacks show... Armenia will not hesitate to commit a crime of humanity in order to continue its illegal occupation," the Turkish Foreign Ministry further said in its statement on Sunday, accusing Armenia of being "the biggest obstacle to peace and stability in the region."

Armenia has so far denied that it had directed fire "of any kind" towards Azerbaijan.

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