Twenty-eight members of Armenian forces have been killed in fresh clashes with Azerbaijani soldiers, bringing their military death toll to 59, as fighting intensifies for Armenia-occupied Karabakh.
Azerbaijan has issued a final warning to Armenia, declaring partial military mobilisation, as the death toll continued to rise in the second day of fighting between the neighbouring countries in the disputed region of occupied Karabakh.
At least 28 members of the Armenian forces were killed in clashes with Azerbaijani troops on Monday, authorities in occupied Karabakh region said, bringing their military death toll to 59.
"Twenty-eight servicemen died in action," Karabakh's self-declared Defence Ministry said in a statement reported by AFP.
The combined reported death toll from both sides rose to 68, including nine civilian deaths: seven in Azerbaijan and two Armenians.
Azerbaijan has not yet released official information on military casualties since the start of the latest fighting on Sunday.
Interfax news agency quoted the press secretary of Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry, Anar Evyazov, as saying the military had occupied several strategically important heights near the village of Talish in occupied Karabakh.
Missiles and artillery and air strikes were used to target enemy positions," he said, adding that several important strategic heights around Talish village have been captured.
Evyazov also said Lernik Babayan, commander of the Armenian military's airborne assault battalion, has been killed near Talish. It was not immediately possible to verify the report.
A final warning
Azerbaijan declared partial military mobilisation on Monday, with the State Service for Mobilization and Military expected to recruit citizens for military service and military transportation.
The decision was referred to the cabinet.
Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry said the Azerbaijani city of Terter, 114 km from Talish, had been under fire from Armenian forces since early morning as both sides deployed heavy artillery.
Earlier on Monday, Baku issued a "final warning" to Yerevan.
"The Ministry of Defence gives the last warning to Armenia that adequate retaliatory measures will be taken against them if needed," the ministry said.
The ministry also shared aerial footage of the destruction of Armenian tanks and armoured vehicles during the clashes.
The clashes, the heaviest since 2016, have reignited concern over stability in the South Caucasus region, a corridor for pipelines carrying oil and gas to world markets.
TRT World's Andrew Hopkins reporting from Baku said the fighting is continuing and the death toll has gone up despite both sides claiming victory on the ground.
"Some international flights have been cancelled. Internal flights to Azerbaijan's autonomous region Nakhchivan have also been suspended... there are some places near the fighting areas which have been put on a military footing."
Speaking to TRT World on why tensions continue to rise in the disputed Karabakh region, former US envoy to Azerbaijan Matthew Bryza said, "Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan wanted talks to start over by rejecting previously agreed terms, and that has infuriated Azerbaijan."
He said Pashinyan was in recent past ready to make peace with Baku, which made certain concessions too, but he flipped apparently "under intense pressure from extremist Armenians."
Occupation of Karabakh
Karabakh is inside Azerbaijan but occupied by Armenians.
World leaders have urged a halt in fighting after the worst escalation since 2016 raised the spectre of a fresh war between the ex-Soviet rivals.
The two countries have been locked in a territorial dispute since the 1990s when Karabakh declared its independence after a war that claimed 30,000 lives.
Karabakh is still considered part of Azerbaijan by the international community.
International calls for calm
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, France, Russia and NATO, among others, have urged an immediate halt to clashes in the occupied region.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded Armenia immediately withdraw from Azerbaijani lands he said it was occupying and said it was time to end the Karabakh crisis.
"The biggest obstacle to peace and stability in the Caucasus is the hostile stance of Armenia," Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Sunday.
"Armenia must turn back from this hostility that will send the region into the fire," Akar said, adding that Ankara would support Baku with "all its resources."
President Donald Trump said on Sunday that the US is looking into what can be done to stop the violence in the occupied Karabakh region.