Armenia says it faces a decisive moment as fighting escalates

Armenian and Azerbaijani forces clashed on Saturday as fighting intensified in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, with Armenia reported heavy losses and its leader saying it was facing a historic threat.

Armenia says it faces a "decisive moment" as fighting escalates

Yerevan's Defense Ministry says separatist forces in Karabakh have repulsed a major Azerbaijani attack, sparking renewed fighting in the decades-old conflict over the ethnic-Armenian Brexit province.

Armenia also announced the deaths of 51 more separatist fighters, bringing the death toll on both sides to more than 240.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry said its forces had "taken new steps" and President Ilham Aliyev claimed that his forces had taken control of the strategic village of Madgiz in connection with the firing on a key northern road. has taken.

Addressing the nation on Saturday, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called on the Armenians to unite.

"We are facing the most decisive moment in our millennial history," Pashinyan said.

"We all have a single goal: victory."

The clashes erupted after artillery and rocket fire hit the regional capital, Stephencart, on Saturday, and local defense officials later reported more explosions.

The fight against Nagorno-Karabakh has threatened to attract powerful players such as Russia and Turkey.

Armenia is part of the Moscow-led military alliance of former Soviet countries, which maintains a military base there, while NATO member Turkey has indicated its full support for Azerbaijan's military operations.

- The 'Last War'.

Both sides have been accused’ of targeting civilian areas, and Azerbaijan said on Saturday that Armenian artillery had shelled 19 of its settlements overnight.

In Stephencart on Saturday, residents cleared debris and spilled glass from shattered windows in their homes and shops.

"This is a great tragedy for our community, for our people," electrician Nelson Adiman, 65, told AFP outside his dilapidated residential building.

"But we will stand up for our freedom. We will always be free."

However, others decided to flee.

AFP reporters saw families gathering in the border town of Gorus as the first step to reach Yerevan, 350km (220 miles) northwest.

Dropped in front of a gray Soviet-style hotel, they waited for public bus officials to send or expect lifts from taxi service volunteers.

"We must come to the aid of those who helped the families leave Yerevan," Aini said.

"We can help like our country."

The new fighting began on September 27 and has not met international calls for an end to hostilities.

Karabakh’s leader, Ariak Harutionian, said he was going to join "fierce fighting" on the front lines.

In Armenia, 209 military deaths and 14 civilian deaths have been’ reported. Azerbaijan has reported 19 civilian casualties but has not confirmed any casualties in its military.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has recorded the deaths of at least 36 militants fighting Syrian forces alongside Azerbaijani forces in the past 48 hours, bringing the death toll to 64.

The war monitor said 1,200 fighters from pro-Ankara Syrian factions had been dispatched’ to the conflict.

- Identity Calls -

Russia, the United States and France - whose leaders co-head a mediation group that has failed to find a political solution to the conflict - called for an immediate ceasefire this week.

Armenia said on Friday it was "ready to engage" with the mediators, but Azerbaijan - which considers Karabakh under Armenian occupation - said the Armenian army should withdraw completely before breaking the ceasefire. ۔

Karabakh’s declaration of independence from Azerbaijan during the collapse of the Soviet Union sparked a war in the early 1990s that killed 30,000 people.

Negotiations to resolve the dispute have made little progress since the 1994 ceasefire agreement.

The breakaway province is not recognized’ as independent by any country - including Armenia. And Karabakh’s foreign ministry said Saturday that there is "international recognition for peace and security in the region."

Yerevan has accused Turkey of sending mercenaries from Syria and Libya. Russia and France have confirmed and condemned the allegations.

Aliyev on Saturday briefed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the civilian casualties and thanked Turkey for its support.