Clashes between Armenian forces and Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave continued on Wednesday for the fourth day. Over 100 have been reported killed in the fighting, including some civilians. Both sides reported attacks over the line of contact, the border that separates Azeri forces and Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Russia has been pressing for peace talks and offered to host them, but neither side seems interested at this time. Azerbaijan said they will continue fighting until all Armenian forces withdraw. “We only have one condition: Armenian armed forces must unconditionally, fully, and immediately leave our lands,” Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said.
Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan also said now was not the time for peace talks. “It isn’t very appropriate to speak of a summit between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia at a time of intensive hostilities,” he said. “A suitable atmosphere and conditions are needed for negotiations.”
Turkey voiced its support for Azerbaijan when the fighting broke out, and Armenia has accused Ankara of intervening in the battle. Armenia said a Turkish F-16 downed one of its SU-25 fighter jets and released pictures of the wreckage on Wednesday. Ankara denied the charge, and Azerbaijan said the plane probably crashed.
Turkey also stands accused of sending mercenaries from northern Syria to the battlefield. Multiple media outlets have reported accounts from men in northern Syria who said they were hired by a Turkish private security company to travel to Azerbaijan. On Wednesday, the Guardian published a report that said at least three Syrian fighters had been killed in Nagorno-Karabakh.
France and Turkey traded barbs over the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh on Wednesday. Turkish Foreign Minister Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said any expression of French solidarity with Armenia amounts to supporting Armenia’s “occupation” of Azerbaijan. French President Emmanuel Macron fired back at the comments and said “warlike messages” from Turkey are fueling the conflict and “essentially remove any of Azerbaijan’s inhibitions in reconquering Nagorno-Karabakh.”
Nagorno-Karabakh is a mountain enclave inhabited by ethnic Armenians inside Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized borders. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the border dispute turned into heavy fighting, and thousands were killed until a ceasefire was agreed to in 1994. While there have been flare-ups since 1994, this latest round of fighting is the heaviest since the ceasefire was declared.