Azerbaijan Armed Forces launched on Tuesday a local anti-terrorist operation to neutralize illegal Armenian armed formations and their military infrastructure in the Karabakh region.
The operation came on the heels of the intensifying attacks on the Azerbaijani positions and the recent deadly mine incidents in the Khojavand district killing four police officers and two road construction workers. Earlier on Tuesday, two servicemen of the Azerbaijani army stationed in the Aghdam district were wounded by the Armenian armed formations illegally deployed in the Azerbaijani territories temporarily monitored by the Russian peacekeeping contingent.
“The local anti-terrorist activities have been launched to … suppress large-scale provocations in the Karabakh economic region, to disarm and secure the withdrawal of formations of Armenia’s armed forces from our territories, neutralize their military infrastructure, provide the safety of the civilian population returned to the territories liberated from occupation, the civilians involved in construction and restoration work and our military personnel, and ultimately restore the constitutional order of the Republic of Azerbaijan,” the ministry said in a statement on Monday.
According to the ministry, as part of the measures, positions on the front line and in-depth, long-term firing points of the formations of Armenia’s armed forces, as well as combat assets and military facilities are incapacitated using high-precision weapons.
The ministry reiterated that only legitimate military targets are being incapacitated, while the civilian population and civilian infrastructure facilities are not targeted.
In video footage disseminated on social media networks, the Azerbaijani army was seen destroying a Russia-made “TOR” multiple-launch rocket system and an electronic warfare system of the Armenian military in the city of Khankendi.
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Armenia launched a full-scale military campaign against Azerbaijan, resulting in the longest and deadliest war in the South Caucasus region. The war ended in a ceasefire in 1994, with Armenia forcibly occupying 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories. This occupation led to the deaths of over 30,000 Azerbaijanis and the expulsion of one million others in a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign conducted by Armenia.
On September 27, 2020, the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia escalated when Armenian forces in the occupied Azerbaijani lands shelled military positions and civilian settlements of Azerbaijan. In a counter-attack that lasted 44 days, Azerbaijani forces liberated over 300 settlements, including the cities of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, and Shusha, effectively ending the nearly 30-year-long illegal Armenian occupation. The war concluded with a tripartite statement signed by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia on November 10, 2020. Under this statement, Armenia also returned the occupied districts of Aghdam, Kalbajar and Lachin to Azerbaijan.
The statement also called for an immediate withdrawal of the Armenian armed personnel from the Azerbaijani territories temporarily monitored by the Russian peacekeepers. However, Article 4 of the statement still goes unfulfilled.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry reported on Monday that Armenia’s more than 10 thousand-strong armed forces are still present in those lands. The illegal troops have more than a hundred tanks and other armored vehicles, over two hundred heavy artillery pieces, including multiple rocket launchers, dozens of different types of radio-electronic warfare equipment, as well as more than two hundred mortars at their disposal.
Armenian mine terror
Meanwhile, at 4:00 AM on Tuesday, an anti-tank mine trapped a truck carrying the employees of the Azerbaijan Automobile Roads State Agency (AAYDA) at the Khojavand section of the Fuzuli-Ahmadbayli-Shusha highway, killing two. At 4:30 AM, employees of the Azerbaijan Interior Ministry heading to the deadly incident’s area were also killed in a similar anti-tank mine explosion.
Both deadly blasts took place near a newly built tunnel in the Taghaverd village of the Khojavand district. The Interior Ministry stated a sabotage group of the illegal Armenian armed formations to be behind the mine terror.
The State Security Service of Azerbaijan launched criminal cases into the incidents under the charges of organized crime, terror act by using explosives, ethnic-hatred-based murder, and illegal acquisition and carrying of explosives and firearms.
According to the data published by the authorities of Azerbaijan, since the end of the Armenia-Azerbaijan 44-day war on November 10, 2020, to September 19, 2023, a total of 314 Azerbaijanis have been trapped in landmine explosions, of which 61 lost their lives and 253 got injuries. Among casualties, 48 civilians lost their lives and 101 suffered injuries of varying degrees. The death toll and injuries among the military personnel as a result of mine accidents stand at 13 and 152, respectively.
Since the start of Armenia’s military aggression against Azerbaijan in 1991, a total of 3,385 Azerbaijanis have become victims of landmines planted by Armenia, with 357 of them being young individuals and 38 being females.
The Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan said on Monday that since August 2022, a total of 2,728 landmines of 2021 Armenian production, including 1,119 landmines in the liberated Kalbajar and Lachin districts on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, and 1,609 in the Karabakh region, were detected and neutralized.