Azerbaijan vowed Sunday a “befitting retaliation” against Armenian attacks which targeted Azerbaijani settlements despite a humanitarian cease-fire in place.
“The Armenian side aims to recapture the liberated territories. Armenia’s political-military leadership bears a responsibility for perpetrated crimes. The Azerbaijani side will give a befitting retaliation!” President Ilham Aliyev said on Twitter.
His remarks came right after an Armenian missile attack on Azerbaijan’s second largest city of Ganja, violating a temporary cease-fire on humanitarian grounds, at 2 a.m. local time on Sunday (2200GMT Saturday).
Dubbing the recent attack a “war crime,” Aliyev said it is also a “gross violation” of the Geneva Conventions.
At least nine people including four women were killed and 34 others were injured in the attack.
“It is a disrespect to the negotiations under Russia’s mediation and another embodiment of Armenian fascism. These heinous actions can never break the will of the Azerbaijani people!” he pledged.
The Armenian attacks continued despite a humanitarian truce agreed on Saturday for the exchange of prisoners and retrieval of bodies in Upper Karabakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan.
The armistice came after a trilateral meeting in Moscow on Friday between the foreign ministers of Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia.
Between Sept. 27, when the clashes began, and October 11, as many as 41 Azerbaijani civilians have been killed and more than 200 injured.
Some 1,165 houses, 57 residential and commercial buildings, and 146 public buildings have also been destroyed or damaged, the Azerbaijani officials said.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said their army repulsed Armenian attacks throughout the night.
Upper Karabakh conflict
Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Upper Karabakh.
The fresh clashes began when Armenian forces targeted civilian Azerbaijani settlements and military positions in the region, leading to casualties.
Many world powers, including Russia, France, and the US, have urged a new cease-fire. Turkey, meanwhile, has supported Baku’s right to self-defense and demanded the withdrawal of Armenia’s occupying forces.
Four UN Security Council and two UN General Assembly resolutions, as well as many international organizations, 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 cease-fire, however, was agreed to in 1994.
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