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Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Continues To Threaten Civilian Lives

By Ilham Karimli May 31, 2018

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Armenian forces deployed at Gorgan village in Azerbaijan's Fuzuli district, occupied by Armenia, shot at an Azerbaijani farmer on Wednesday while he was farming, according to the country’s defense ministry.

The fear of being killed by bullets from an Armenian sniper rifle or a machine gun has turned into a daily and fatal challenge for Azerbaijani civilians living in regions located just hundreds of meters from Armenian military units deployed in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. A villager in Azerbaijan’s Fuzuli region was just one in a long line of survivors of Armenian shelling, shooting and other forms of military provocation, on May 29.

Armenian forces deployed at Gorgan village in Azerbaijan's Fuzuli district, occupied by Armenia, shot at an Azerbaijani farmer on Wednesday while he was farming, according to the country’s defense ministry. The farmer barely escaped the bullets, while his combine harvester was seriously damaged in the wake of heavy machine gun firing.

Frontline positions, which include the Fuzuli region, have been targeted over 180 times by Armenian armed forces between May 29 and 30, the ministry reported.

Fuzuli is one of seven districts of Azerbaijan that have been occupied by Armenia in addition to the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The land grab by Armenia is the result of a war that lasted from 1991 to 1994. Around 80 percent of Fuzuli district was seized in 1993.

Armenia and Azerbaijan are two neighboring former Soviet republics located in the South Caucasus. Shortly before the fall of the USSR in December 1991, Armenia kicked off a military campaign against its neighbor in an attempt to gain control of Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh region – a region partially populated with ethnic Armenians that had lived alongside indigenous Azerbaijanis during Soviet rule.

The 1991-94 war killed more than 20,000 Azerbaijanis. Nearly one million were displaced, while 4,000 others were taken captive, hostage, or went missing. When a ceasefire came into force in 1994, the fighting stopped. But peace never settled in, as Armenia to this day occupies Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts, despite UN Security Council resolutions ordering Armenian forces to withdraw. Armenia’s regular ceasefire breaches claim the lives of Azerbaijanis.

Hikmet Hajiyev, a spokesperson for Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry, said the latest targeting of an Azerbaijani resident in Fuzuli sheds light on the real purpose of Armenia’s armed forces.

"It is very easy to discern a combine harvester due to its size and appearance, but it is obvious that the goal of the Armenian armed forces is to attack these civilian objects," Hajiyev told Trend news agency.

"This latest event once again shows that the status quo, based on the continuation of the illegal presence of the Armenian armed forces in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and the occupation of Azerbaijani territories, is unacceptable and continues to be a serious threat to regional peace and security,” Hajiyev said.

“To change the status quo, Armenia must withdraw its troops from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.”

Fuzuli residents witnessed one of the deadliest shelling of the Armenian forces on July 4 last year, when two-year-old Zahra Guliyeva and her grandmother, 50-year-old Sahiba Guliyeva, were brutally killed by mortar fire in the village of Alkhanli. The village was shelled by 82 millimeter and 120 millimeter mortars. Another villager, Sarvinaz Guliyeva, age 52, was hospitalized after receiving serious shrapnel wounds.

In August of the same year, a 13-year-old child in the frontline village of Garalar received serious shrapnel wounds as well.