Azerbaijan says Armenia must withdraw troops from occupied Karabakh region in order to end days of fighting.
Armenia must withdraw troops from the occupied Karabakh region in order to end days of fighting, Azerbaijan has said after Armenia announced it was ready to discuss a ceasefire.
"If Armenia wants to see an end of this escalation of the situation, the ball is in the court of Armenia," Hikmet Hajiyev, foreign affairs aide to the president of Azerbaijan, told reporters during an online press conference on Friday.
"Armenia must end its occupation" of Karabakh, he said. "Enough is enough."
Fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces erupted on Sunday over a longstanding territorial dispute centering around Karabakh, with nearly 200 people dead.
The rival Caucasus nations have been locked in a bitter stalemate over Karabakh after it was occupied by Armenians in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Azerbaijani army freed strategic points in the western Agdhare province from Armenian occupation, the country's Defence Ministry said on Friday.
The ministry said in a statement that the Azerbaijani army forced the Armenian army to withdraw from the Jabrayil-Fuzuli region, adding that some strategic hills in Aghdara's Madagiz region were also retaken.
Armenian authorities in occupied Karabakh reported 54 more military casualties on Friday, Russia's Interfax news agency said.
Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry claimed volunteers brought from Armenia to the occupied areas refused to fight, fearing the intensity of the conflict and heavy losses.
Another ministry statement said Armenian forces targeted the villages of Hindiristan, Alibeyli, Ahmadaghali, and Safarli in the southwestern Agdam province.
Armenia carried out rocket attacks on Azerbaijani territories from the Gorus region, it said.
Six days of fighting
Border clashes first broke out last Sunday when Armenian forces targeted Azerbaijani civilian settlements and military positions, leading to casualties.
Azerbaijan's parliament declared a state of war in some of its cities and regions following Armenia's border violations and attacks in occupied Karabakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh.
On Monday, Azerbaijan declared partial military mobilisation amid the clashes.
Armed Forces of #Armenia continue deliberate and indiscriminate shelling the #Azerbaijan/i civilians and civilian infrastructure.#StopArmenianAggression #CirmesAgainstHumanity#WarCrimes pic.twitter.com/8Oj8OGT5Hl— MFA Azerbaijan 🇦🇿 (@AzerbaijanMFA) October 2, 2020
Erdogan vows struggle until Karabakh is liberated
Also on Friday, Turkey's president vowed to continue the struggle for Azerbaijan's territory of occupied Karabakh until it is freed from Armenian occupation.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated Turkey’s full support for Azerbaijan during a speech at the inauguration of a city hospital in the central Turkish province of Konya.
Armenia has once again attacked Azerbaijani territories while the issue of Karabakh, which Yerevan occupied with "despicable massacres," is yet to be resolved, Erdogan said.
"But, this time [Armenia] has encountered an unexpected end," he added.
"The brotherly state of Azerbaijan has started a great operation both to defend its own territories and to liberate the occupied Karabakh."
Pakistan denies its army's presence in Azerbaijan
Meanwhile, Pakistan refuted Indian media reports that Pakistan's army is fighting alongside the Azerbaijani forces.
In a statement, Pakistan Foreign Ministry said such reports are "irresponsible, speculative and baseless."
However, the ministry, reiterating its country's position on the issue, stated Pakistan is deeply concerned over the deteriorating security situation in the occupied region.
"The intensive shelling by Armenian forces on civilian populations of Azerbaijan is reprehensible and most unfortunate. This could compromise the peace and security of the entire region. Armenia must stop its military action to avoid further escalation," said the statement.
"Pakistan supports Azerbaijan’s position on Nagorno-Karabakh, which is in line with the several unanimously adopted United Nations Security Council resolutions," the statement added.
Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Karabakh, an internationally recognised territory of Azerbaijan.
Four UN Security Council and two UN General Assembly resolutions, as well as many international organisations, demand the withdrawal of the occupying forces.
The OSCE Minsk Group – co-chaired by France, Russia, and the US – was formed in 1992 to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, but to no avail. A ceasefire, however, was agreed upon in 1994.
Turkey, which supports Azerbaijan, has urged Armenia to withdraw its forces from occupied Azerbaijani territories before a ceasefire can be implemented.
Speaking at a joint news conference with his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio, Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday that Turkey continues to stands in solidarity with Azerbaijan against its struggle for the occupied territories of Karabakh.
France, Russia, and NATO, among others, have also urged an immediate halt to clashes in the occupied region.