STEPANAKERT (Combined Sources) — Nagorno Karabakh authorities said on February 25 that its troops repelled attacks by Azerbaijani armed forces in the southeastern and eastern sections of the front line.
The military leadership in Nagorno-Karabakh said its troops “spotted and repulsed” attacks by Azerbaijani forces and that several Azerbaijani soldiers were killed in the fighting, while the Armenian side suffered no casualties.
“There are several bodies [of Azerbaijani soldiers] in the neutral zone. The Armenian side suffered no dead or wounded,” Karabakh’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry confirmed the clashes, but blamed Artsakh.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said on February 27 that the bodies of the soldiers were removed some 48 hours after the clashes with the help of international organizations — including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Initially Baku had denied that the soldiers were Azeri.
It also admitted casualties, without specifying a number, and said the Karabakh forces had launched an unsuccessful offensive for the purpose of “improving their positions.”
Meanwhile, the Karabakh military leadership quoted “reliable data” in reporting movements of Azerbaijani troops and materiel in the eastern direction of the line of contact.
The Armenian Defense Ministry issued a statement warning Azerbaijan’s military and political leadership against further escalation of the situation in the conflict zone.
The Azerbaijani side used special equipment as it launched an offensive in the southeastern and eastern directions of the line of contact in the predawn hours, the Artsakh Defense Ministry reports.
“The attempt was a complete failure,” the Ministry said, adding that, as usual, the Azeri side tried to ascribe its actions to the Armenian side.
In particular, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry issued a statement, claiming that the Artsakh forces had undertaken an attack with a view of improving their positions and noting that the Azerbaijani side had incurred losses in the “defensive.”
Press Service of the Artsakh Defense Ministry declares that the claims are false, adding that the defending side could not have left losses in the neutral zone.
More shelling continued in the aftermath, including Azerbaijan firing more than 1,150 shots in the direction of the Armenian positions, the Artsakh Defense Ministry reports.
The Azerbaijani forces used Spike anti-tank guided missile in the eastern (Martuni) direction of the line of contact around 15:40 today, Artsakh Defense Ministry reported.
“This comes to prove that the rival is escalating the situation on purpose,” the Ministry said, adding that “it’s fraught with unpredictable consequences.”
The Artsakh Defense Ministry declared it is ready for any development of events and noted that “Azerbaijani military-political leadership will bear full responsibility for further escalation.
On February 28, Artsakh Republic President Bako Sahakyan received the representative of the OSCE chairman-in-office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk.
The meeting addressed a number of issues related to the situation along the contact line between the Karabakh and Azerbaijan armed forces.
Special attention was paid to the penetration attempt made by the Azerbaijani subversion unit on February 25. The president described it as a provocative policy aimed at undermining peace and stability in the region.
Within this context, Sahakyan highlighted the need for targeted and tough response by the international community, considering it an important component in containing the destructive policy waged by the adversary.
In addition, President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan remarked that the NK conflict is an “active” one at the joint press conference with NATO Secretary General on February 27 in Brussels.
“We touched upon the most explosive security challenge of our region – the recent developments on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. In this context, I attached great importance to the support of the NATO and Mr. Stoltenberg personally to the mediation efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs aimed at the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Sargsyan had visited the line of contact on February 25.
(Reports from RFE/RL, Mediamax and Public Radio of Armenia were used to compile this story.)