TEHRAN (Iran News) – Iran issued a new warning to neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan on Friday after stray fire from their conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region wounded one person on the Iranian side of the border.
“If there is any repetition of such fire, the Islamic Republic of Iran will not remain indifferent,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh tweeted, without specifying which side Tehran held responsible for the latest fire, AFP wrote.
A total of 10 rockets hit villages in the Iranian border county of Khoda-Afarin, wounding one person and destroying a building, IRNA reported.
The county in Iran’s East Azarbaijan Province borders Armenian-controlled territory in Azerbaijan adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh which has seen fighting in the deadly flare-up that broke out late last month.
In the first week of the fighting, mortar rounds repeatedly strayed across the border, with one wounding a six-year-old child.
The mortar fire prompted Khatibzadeh to warn that “any intrusion upon our country’s territory by either side of the conflict is intolerable.”
Armenia and Azerbaijan have for decades been locked in a conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnically Armenian region of Azerbaijan which broke away from Baku in a 1990s war that claimed the lives of some 30,000 people.
Azerbaijan and Armenia accused each other on Saturday of fresh attacks in violation of a week-old Russian-brokered truce that has failed to halt the worst fighting in the South Caucasus since the 1990s, according to Reuters.
Baku said 13 civilians were killed and more than 50 wounded in the city of Ganja by an Armenian missile attack, while Yerevan accused Azerbaijan of continued shelling.
The Azerbaijani Prosecutor General’s Office said a residential area in Ganja, the country’s second-largest city and miles away from Nagorno-Karabakh, was shelled by missile strikes and around 20 apartment buildings had been hit. Armenia denied the claim.
Baku also said that an electricity line which goes from Azerbaijan to neighboring Georgia was damaged as a result of shelling in the town of Mingachevir.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev accused Armenia of committing a war crime by shelling Ganja.
“If the international community does not punish Armenia, we will do it,” he said.
Aliyev said the Azerbaijani Army has completely taken over two regions previously held by separatists, Fizuli and Jabrail.
“We are dominating the battlefield,” he said, adding that Azerbaijani armed forces never targeted civilian settlements.
Aliyev also questioned Armenia’s ability to keep replacing military hardware destroyed in battles, a thinly veiled jab at Yerevan’s ally Moscow.
Armenia denied the Azerbaijani claim that it had been bringing arms illegally and accused Azerbaijan of acting to expand Turkey’s influence in the region and of using pro-Turkish mercenaries – charges both Ankara and Baku deny.
The Armenian Defense Ministry denied the Azerbaijani claim on shelling cities in Azerbaijan and accused Baku of continuing to shell populated areas inside Nagorno-Karabakh, including Stepanakert, the region’s biggest city.
Three civilians were wounded as a result of Azerbaijani fire in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian Foreign Ministry said.
Armenia also said several Azerbaijani drones flew over settlements in Armenia, attacked military installations and damaged the civilian infrastructure. It denied an Azerbaijani claim to have downed an Armenian Su-25 warplane.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called attacks “an attempted genocide of the Armenian people”, telling the French newspaper Liberation, “We must defend ourselves, like any nation that is threatened with extermination”.
Turkey, which has been criticized by NATO allies for its stance in the conflict, reiterated its support for Azerbaijan.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Saturday Turkey would “always side with Azerbaijan”, while the country’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar talked to his Azerbaijani counterpart Zakir Hasanov on the phone and congratulated him on “liberating” several settlements in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Ankara accuses Armenia of illegally occupying Azerbaijani territory. Armenia says Turkey has encouraged Azerbaijan to pursue a military solution to the conflict, putting Armenian civilians in danger.
Baku said on Saturday that 60 Azerbaijani civilians had been killed and 270 wounded since the fighting flared on Sept. 27. Azerbaijan has not disclosed military casualties.
Nagorno-Karabakh says 633 of its military personnel have been killed, and 34 civilians.
- source : Iran Daily