About 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory – including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions – has been under illegal Armenian occupation since 1991. Three ceasefires agreed since the fresh fighting began on September 27 have failed to hold.

Azerbaijani law enforcement officers gather near fragments of ammunition following shelling in Barda, Azerbaijan. October 29, 2020..
Azerbaijani law enforcement officers gather near fragments of ammunition following shelling in Barda, Azerbaijan. October 29, 2020.. (Reuters)

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has said his troops would "go to the end" should negotiations fail to result in an agreement by ethnic Armenian forces to withdraw from illegally occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions.

Aliyev, speaking during a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in the Azerbaijani capital Baku, also said Armenia had "no basis" to request Russian military assistance in the conflict.

Further shelling was reported by Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces in and around Nagorno-Karabakh on Sunday.

The death toll in the region's worst fighting in more than 25 years has already surpassed 1,000 and is possibly much higher.

Aliyev, quoted by state news agency Azertag, said he wanted to resolve the conflict through negotiations that would result in the withdrawal of ethnic Armenian forces.

"Otherwise," he said, "we will continue by any means to restore our territorial integrity and ... we will go to the end."

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has asked Russia to outline the extent of the support it could expect from Moscow.

In response, Russia's foreign ministry said on Saturday it would provide "all assistance required" should the conflict spill onto "the territory of Armenia" – land that is outside the current conflict zone.

READ MORE: Azerbaijan accuses Armenia of missile strike on village in Barda region

Tense fighting 

The fresh fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenian forces began on September 27. Three ceasefires agreed so far have failed to hold.

Azerbaijan's defence ministry said its army units in Tovuz, Gadabay and Gubadli had come under shelling overnight. Combat on Sunday was concentrated in Aghdara, Aghdam, Gubadli and Khojavend – the Azerbaijani name for Martuni.

Armenian forces said that missiles have been targeted at the town of Martuni, the village of Karin Tak and the city of Shushi, just 15 kilometres from the enclave's largest city, Stepanakert.

Armenia said 1,166 of its soldiers have been killed since September 27 and the civilian death toll was 45.

Azerbaijan, which does not disclose its military casualties, says 91 civilians have been killed. Russia has estimated as many as 5,000 deaths on both sides.

READ MORE: Azerbaijan advances on a strategic region as displaced refugees eye return

Under occupation since 1991

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

Four UN Security Council resolutions and two from the UN General Assembly, as well as international organisations, demand the "immediate complete and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces" from occupied Azerbaijani territory.

About 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory – including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions – has been under illegal Armenian occupation for nearly three decades.

A ceasefire, however, was agreed to in 1994.

World powers, including Russia, France and the US, have called for a sustainable ceasefire. Turkey, meanwhile, has supported Baku's right to self-defense and demanded the withdrawal of Armenia's occupying forces.

READ MORE: Armenia, Azerbaijan vow to avoid targeting residential areas

Source: TRTWorld and agencies