Large-scale Azerbaijani offensive against Armenia marks worst fighting since war

Large-scale Azerbaijani offensive against Armenia marks worst fighting since war
Around 25 Armenian soldiers are reported as dead or missing, with 13 captured. Baku said 7 Azerbaijani soldiers were killed in the fighting on November 16.
By Neil Hauer in Yerevan November 17, 2021

Azerbaijan and Armenia have agreed a ceasefire to end a large-scale Azerbaijani offensive against Armenian territory in the worst fighting between the two countries since the end of last year’s Karabakh war.

Armenia’s defence ministry announced that at 1pm local time on November 16, Azerbaijani forces launched a major assault on Armenian positions on the country’s eastern border. lost two military positions. Azerbaijan television subsequently showed Armenian prisoners being taunted by their Azerbaijani captors.

Baku reported that seven of its soldiers had died and 10 were wounded.

The fighting comes as Azerbaijan continues to push for a ‘Zangezur corridor’ that will provide it land access to the ethnic Azerbaijani Nakhchivan enclave inside Armenia. As part of its pressure, Azerbaijan has closed several Armenian roads that pass through its territory in recent weeks.

Russia had urged both sides to step back from confrontation.  Russian President Vladimir Putin and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan discussed the situation on the border by phone, the Kremlin said. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu also spoke by phone to the Armenian and Azeri defence ministers by phone, Interfax news agency said.

Armenia had asked Moscow to help defend it after the worst fighting since the 44-day war last year over the ethnic Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh enclave inside Azerbaijan that killed at least 6,500 people and in which Azerbaijan reconquered territory surrounding the enclave it had lost during the early 1990s.

Last year's conflict ended after Russia, which has a military base in Armenia, brokered a peace deal and deployed almost 2,000 peacekeepers to the region. 

"In accordance with an agreement mediated by the Russian side, fire ceased on the eastern section of the Armenian-Azeri border, and the situation is relatively stable," Armenia's defence ministry said, Reuters reported.

The Azeri defence ministry said it had retaliated to large-scale "provocations" after Armenian forces shelled Azeri army positions.