Recent fighting erupted on September 27 and has killed dozens of people, marking the biggest escalation in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan since the 1990s, when a full-scale war that broke out and killed an estimated 30,000 people.

Villages of Shikhali Agali, Sarijali, Mezre in Jabrayil district freed from Armenian occupation, Azerbaijan President Aliyev tweeted. October 5, 2020.
Villages of Shikhali Agali, Sarijali, Mezre in Jabrayil district freed from Armenian occupation, Azerbaijan President Aliyev tweeted. October 5, 2020. (AA)

The Azerbaijani army has freed strategic more villages from Armenian occupation, the country's president has announced.

The three villages are located in Jabrayil district, near occupied Karabakh, which has been under Armenian occupation since the early 1990s.

“Successful operation of our glorious Army is ongoing. Karabakh is Azerbaijan!" President Ilham Aliyev said on Twitter on Monday night.

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.

On Saturday, Aliyev announced  the army had retaken the settlements of Karkhulu, Shukurbeyli, Cherekan, Dashkasan, Horovlu, Mahmudlu, Jafarabad, Yuxari Maralyan and Dejal , also in Jabrayil district.

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

Turkey in support of Azerbaijan's border integrity

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is expected in Azerbaijan on Tuesday for a working trip.

After talks with Cavusoglu on Monday in Ankara, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters that the military alliance is “deeply concerned by the escalation of hostilities,” and urged Turkey to “use its considerable influence to calm tensions.”

Cavusoglu repeated calls for Armenia to withdraw from the region “in line with international laws, UN Security Council resolutions and Azerbaijan’s territorial and border integrity.”

READ MORE: Azerbaijan demands inclusion of Turkey in Karabakh solution process

Fresh ceasefire call

Late on Monday, Russia, the United States and France, co-chairs of the Minsk Group,  issued a fresh call for an "immediate and unconditional ceasefire."

The three countries' foreign ministers said in a joint statement that the escalating conflict including reported attacks on civilian centres "constitute an unacceptable threat to the stability of the region".

"The ministers call once again upon the conflicting parties to accept an immediate and unconditional ceasefire," the statement said.

The Minsk Group was set up by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 1992 to resolve the conflict.

Separately, Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the conflict and "serious casualties" with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and also called for an immediate ceasefire, the Kremlin said.

Neither Azerbaijan nor Armenia, which supports the occupied region, has shown any sign of backing down so far.

Karabakh conflict

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

A ceasefire was agreed upon in 1994.

Multiple UN resolutions, as well as many international organisations, demand the withdrawal of the invading forces.

Many world powers, including Russia, France, and the US, have urged an immediate ceasefire. Turkey, meanwhile, has supported Baku's right to self-defense.

READ MORE: Azerbaijan: Armenia attacking cities far beyond conflict zone

Source: TRTWorld and agencies