President Ilham Aliyev said Azerbaijan's army would retaliate against Armenia and "take revenge on the battlefield" after the shelling on a residential area in Ganja flattened rows of houses.

Relatives of Royal Sahnazarov, his wife Zuleyha Sahnazarova and their daughter Medine Sahnazorava, who were killed when a rocket hit their home, mourn during their funeral in the city of Ganja, Azerbaijan, on October 17, 2020
Relatives of Royal Sahnazarov, his wife Zuleyha Sahnazarova and their daughter Medine Sahnazorava, who were killed when a rocket hit their home, mourn during their funeral in the city of Ganja, Azerbaijan, on October 17, 2020 (AFP)

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev has accused Armenia of committing a war crime by shelling the city of Ganja leaving a dozen civilians dead.

"They will be held responsible for that ... if the international community does not punish Armenia, we will do it," he said during his televised remarks.

Aliyev said on Saturday the Azerbaijani army has completely taken over two regions previously held by separatists, Fizuli and Jabrail.

"We are dominating the battlefield," he said, adding that Azerbaijani armed forces never targeted civilian settlements.

Aliyev also questioned Armenia's ability to keep replacing military hardware destroyed in battles, a thinly veiled jab at Yerevan's ally Moscow.

He reiterated his stance that Baku would only stop its offensive once Armenia withdraws from occupied Nagorno-Karabakh.

READ MORE: Azerbaijan: Armenian missile strikes outside occupied Karabakh

'We are expecting another attack. Again at night, again while we sleep'

At least 13 people were killed including three children and 52 more wounded in the attack, said Azerbaijan's general prosecutor office.

The missile strikes late on Friday hit busy areas in and around the city centre of Ganja, which is about 60 kilometres away from the Nagorno-Karabakh frontline.  

READ MORE: Azerbaijan mourns as it buries those lost in occupied-Karabakh clashes

In Ganja, rescuers worked at the scene on Saturday morning, picking through rubble, a Reuters photographer said. Some houses had been almost levelled. An excavator was clearing the debris.

At least 20 buildings have been destroyed in the missile attacks, said Azerbaijan's presidential aide Hikmet Hajiyev in a tweet.

Five members of the Eskerov family lost their lives in the attack and were buried by their relatives wrapped in the Azerbaijani flag in the fourth cemetery in Ganja.

Vugar Serifov, a relative of the family, said that the Armenian missile fell directly on their home.

“Tomorrow was going to be Nigar Eskerova’s birthday. He was going to turn 16. The preparations were made but he was buried today."

Another family who was living in one of the houses hit by the missile was Royal Shahnezerov, his wife Zuleyha Shahnezerova and their 5-month-old baby. They were asleep during the attack and died under the rubble leaving a 3-year-old girl Hatice alive.

 said the two of them left carnations for those who lost their lives in last week's Ganja attack. 

"Will Armenia attack the city again?" Feride Botanova, a close relative of Shahnezerov, Botanova said, 

"Whoever attacks twice, will attack a third time. We are expecting another attack. Again at night, again while we sleep."

Azerbaijan army advances

Azerbaijani forces have continued to make advances along the front line against Armenian troops, the Defence Ministry said.

"The Troops of the Azerbaijan Army retain their operational superiority, inflicting damage on the enemy with precise fire along the entire front line," said a written statement.

Saying that the operational situation in the Aghdere-Aghdam and Fuzuli-Hadrut-Jabrayil directions of the front "remained tense" on Friday and early Saturday, the ministry said the Azerbaijani Armed Forces took "advantageous" frontiers, high ground, and positions in important directions.

In a seperate statement, the ministry said Azerbaijan shot down an Armenian fighter jet, the Su-25 aircraft, which was attempting to launch air strikes in the Jabrayil region.

The jet was destroyed by Azerbaijani forces at around 0711GMT (11:11 am local time).

Attack in Mingacevir

A hydroelectric power plant in Mingacevir was targeted by the Armenian forces after midnight, Azerbaijan's public prosecutor's office said.

But, the missiles were intercepted and destroyed by the Azerbaijani air defence forces, the office added.

Turkey condemns attacks

Armenia continues to commit “war crimes” in Azerbaijan, killing civilians there, including children, Turkey's top diplomat said on Saturday.

"Silence in face of savagery means complicity in murder. Those who do not claim their share of humanity will be held accountable for their crimes," Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Twitter.

He also reiterated that Turkey will always stand with Azerbaijan.

Turkey's Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin condemned Armenia's "indiscriminate" attacks on Azerbaijan residential areas.

"Armenia continues to commit war crimes even under a declared ceasefire. As in Khojali, it kills women, children, the elderly and civilians indiscriminately. Armenia will pay for these unlawful acts and murders. Turkey stands with Azerbaijan to the very end," Kalin said in a tweet.

READ MORE: 'Everyone wants a flag': Turkey's support lifts spirits in Azerbaijan

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Recent clashes erupted between the two countries on September 27, and since then, Armenia has continued its attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces.

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.

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 to in 1994. Multiple UN resolutions, as well as international organisations, demand the withdrawal of the occupying forces.

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

About 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory has remained under illegal Armenian occupation for nearly three decades.

READ MORE: Turkey open to four-way talks to resolve conflict in occupied Karabakh

Source: TRTWorld and agencies