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Azerbaijan, Armenia attacking cities far beyond conflict zone

Azerbaijan, Armenia Attacking Cities Far Beyond the Conflict Zone

BAKU, Azerbaijan – Fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces continued over Nagorno-Karabakh, with Azerbaijan accusing Armenia of targeting their towns which lie well beyond the conflict zone.
Hikmet Hajiyev, the assistant to Azerbaijani President Ilkham Aliyev, said on Sunday that Armenia had targeted the big cities of Ganja and Mingachevir with missile strikes.
Ganja, home to several hundred thousand residents and the country’s second-largest city, is located about 100 kilometres (about 60 miles) from Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, as is Mingachevir.
On Sunday, Hajiyev tweeted a video showing damaged buildings and called it the result of “Armenia’s massive missile attacks on dense residential areas” in Ganja.
Hajiyev said in another tweet that Armenian forces also hit Mingachevir, which “houses a key water tank and power station,” with a missile strike.
According to Hajiyev, no severe damage was inflicted on the infrastructure of Mingachevir, but “civilians (were) injured”.
Armenian forces also launched missile attacks on the Khizi and Absheron areas in Azerbaijan, according to Hajiyev.
On the other hand, the Armenian Defense Ministry vehemently denied these allegations.
Ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanian wrote on Facebook that “no fire has been opened from Armenia towards Azerbaijan” and called the accusations “desperate convulsions on the Azerbaijani side”.
Nagorno-Karabakh leader Arayik Harutyunyan posted on Facebook that he ordered “rocket attacks to neutralize military objects” in Ganja, but then told his forces to stop firing to avoid civilian casualties.
His spokesman, Vahram Poghosyan, told Armenian media on Sunday evening that there was no reason for Nagorno-Karabakh forces to target Mingachevir.
Azerbaijani officials denied any military objects were hit in Ganja but said the attack damaged civilian infrastructure.
A civilian was killed and 32 others injured, authorities said.
“Opening fire on Azerbaijani territory from Armenian territory is provocative and widens the zone of hostilities,” Azerbaijani Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov said in a statement on Sunday.
President Ilham Aliyev congratulated the Azerbaijani people for the liberation of the city of Jabrayil from Armenian occupation and laid down several conditions to end military operations, including the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied territories.
In a speech to the nation, Aliyev said that the end of Azerbaijani operations to liberate their land would only come when Armenian forces withdraw from Azerbaijani territory, and the country’s territorial integrity is recognized.
He also called on Armenian President Armen Sarkissian to apologize to the Azerbaijani people and declare that Karabakh is not Armenian land.
Aliyev said Sarkissian should also reveal the date of the Armenian troops’ withdrawal from the occupied territories.
He promised to rebuild all liberated towns, including restoring all mosques damaged by Armenian forces.
Stating that they had been waiting in the hope for years to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through negotiations, Aliyev recalled that in response to this, Armenia had declared that it would not return the land.
“In the current situation, the only responsibility lies with the Yerevan administration. At the same time, some countries which ignore this issue and still support Armenia are also responsible,” he said.
The clashes erupted on September 27, 2020 and left dozens of people dead, marking the most significant escalation of the decades-old conflict in the region.
Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been strained since 1991 when the Armenian army occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan.
Several UN resolutions, as well as many international organizations, demand the withdrawal of Armenian forces.
(Sahar News Monitoring D

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