Azerbaijan on Sunday called on Armenia to lay down its arms and cease its border violations in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region.
If Armenian forces surrender, the prisoners of war and civilian hostages will be treated in line with the Geneva Convention and other international legal norms, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry pledged in a statement.
The statement added that if Armenian forces continue their resistance, all their armed forces will be neutralized.
Border clashes broke out earlier Sunday after Armenian forces targeted Azerbaijani civilian settlements and military positions. The number of casualties is not yet known.
Armenia has once again proven that it is the biggest obstacle to peace and stability in the region, the statement said, adding that Turkey will steadfastly stand with Azerbaijan.
Baku has the right of self-defense to protect its people and territory, it said.
Relations between the two former Soviet nations have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Upper Karabakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan.
Four UN Security Council and two UN General Assembly resolutions as well as many international organizations demand the withdrawal of Armenia’s 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.
* Writing by Erdogan Cagatay Zontur
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