Armenia must withdraw from the Azerbaijani territories it occupied and stop cooperating with terrorist organizations, Turkey’s defense minister said on Monday.

“Armenia must withdraw from the [Azerbaijani] territories it occupied, end cooperation with terrorist organizations, and get rid of mercenaries and terrorists from the [Upper Karabakh] region,” Hulusi Akar said in a virtual conference with Turkey’s high-rank military officials.

By targeting civilians, Armenia is committing a “war crime” in the occupied Azerbaijani territory of Upper Karabakh, which should be known by everyone, he underlined.

Armenian authorities, who are openly targeting innocent civilians, will surely be judged by the conscience of humanity, particularly of their own people, he added.

The fighting began on Sept. 27, when the Armenian forces targeted civilian Azerbaijani settlements and military positions in Upper Karabakh, also known as Nagorno Karabakh region, leading to casualties.

Upper Karabakh conflict

Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Upper Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan.

Multiple UN resolutions, as well as many international organizations, demand the withdrawal of the invading 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 cease-fire, however, was agreed upon in 1994.

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

* Writing by Faruk Zorlu

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