Armenian soldiers hit Azerbaijan's second-largest city, Ganja, away from the flashpoint occupied Karabakh region, with Baku threatening retaliation.

Emergency personnel work in a damaged area of the city of Ganja following an Armenian rocket strike on October 4, 2020.
Emergency personnel work in a damaged area of the city of Ganja following an Armenian rocket strike on October 4, 2020. (AFP)

Armenian forces have targeted residential areas in Azerbaijan's second-largest city of Ganja, away from the flashpoint and occupied Karabakh region, as fighting entered eighth straight day. 

Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry said Armenian armed forces shelled Ganja, a city of more than 500,000 residents in western Azerbaijan, killing one civilian wounding at least four others. 

Baku said Ganja was under fire, including from areas outside of Karabakh, adding that Armenian shelling was "provocative and expands the zone of hostilities."

"Armenian forces struck Ganja with rockets from Armenian territory," said Hikmet Hajiyev, an adviser to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, adding Azerbaijan will destroy military targets inside Armenia from which Armenia is firing on Azerbaijan's cities.

He said Armenian forces had also used heavy artillery and rockets against the towns of Tartar, Fuzuli, Jabrayil, and Goradiz cities in Azerbaijan.

Aliyev demands Armenian timetable to withdraw from Karabakh

Later on Sunday, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev announced that Jabrayil was liberated from Armenian occupation. 

He also demanded the Armenian timetable to withdraw from occupied Karabakh and surrounding territories, saying Azerbaijan would not cease military action until that happened.

Aliyev, in a televised address, said Azerbaijan had waited 30 years to recover its lands. 

"Karabakh is our iterritory. We must return and we will return," he said while slamming the so-called Minsk Group and EU for not sanctioning Armenia. 

READ MORE: Azerbaijan continues to liberate more villages from Armenian occupation

'Armenia's unlawful attitude' slammed

Turkey strongly condemned Armenia's attacks on Ganja's civilians.

"These attacks are an indication of the desperation Armenia has fallen into and that it will not refrain from committing crimes against humanity with aims to continue its illegal occupation," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

It said targeting civilians is "a new manifestation of Armenia's unlawful attitude."

Self-declared leader wounded

Armenian soldiers in Karabakh said they had targeted and destroyed an airbase in Ganja, but Baku denied this as a "provocation" and said civilian infrastructure and housing had been hit.

Karabakh's self-declared leader Arayik Harutyunyan warned that it would now consider "military facilities in Azerbaijan's big cities" as legitimate targets.

On Saturday, Harutyunyan announced that he was heading to the front to join the fighting.

Azerbaijani officials claimed on Sunday that he had been "seriously wounded" while in a bunker hit by bombing, but his office denied this.

Azerbaijani soldiers managed to locate where Harutyunyan was, and a result of military action he is now "heavily wounded," TRT World's Andrew Hopkins said from Baku. 

'Bombs were falling right into the yard'

Baku said two more civilians had been killed in shelling on the southern town of Beylagan, where a journalist working with AFP news agency saw residents picking through the rubble of destroyed homes. 

"I was baking bread when I heard explosions, I opened the door and saw that bombs were falling right into the yard," said one woman, showing journalists the blown-out windows and partially collapsed roof of her home.

Border clashes broke out last Sunday when Armenian forces targeted Azerbaijani civilian settlements and military positions, leading to casualties.

Yerevan and Baku have resisted international calls for a ceasefire and clashes have intensified in recent days, with both sides claiming victories on the front and saying they are inflicting heavy losses.

Azerbaijan has made gains in occupied Karabakh in recent days, with Baku saying that 14 settlements have been taken as well as a strategically important plateau.

Armenia acknowledged that Armenian troops were under pressure in some places and said the situation on the ground was fluctuating.

READ MORE: Azerbaijan kills dozens of Armenian soldiers in Karabakh fighting

Karabakh conflict

Armenia says it's "ready to engage" with mediators but Azerbaijan says Armenian forces must fully withdraw before a ceasefire can be brokered.

Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Karabakh, an internationally recognised territory of Azerbaijan.

Karabakh's declaration of independence from Azerbaijan during the collapse of the Soviet Union sparked a war in the early 1990s that claimed 30,000 lives.

It is still not recognised as independent by any country, including Armenia.

Talks to resolve the conflict have made little progress since a 1994 ceasefire agreement.

Four UN Security Council and two UN General Assembly resolutions, as well as many international organisations, demand the withdrawal of the occupying forces.

US, Russia, and NATO, among others, have urged an immediate halt to clashes in the occupied region.

READ MORE: Are PKK-linked terrorists fighting alongside Armenia in occupied-Karabakh?

Source: TRTWorld and agencies