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AR­ME­NIAN mil­i­tary units con­tin­ued to at­tack civil­ian ar­eas in Azer­bai­jan’s Ganja, Barda, Bey­la­gan and other cities with mis­siles and rock­ets, Azer­bai­jan au­thor­i­ties said yes­ter­day. In a state­ment on Twit­ter, Hik­met Ha­jiyev, the aide of the Azer­bai­jani Pres­i­dent Il­ham Aliyev, called Ar­me­nia’s at­tacks “bar­barism and van­dal­ism.” “Sign of weak­ness and panic of Ar­me­nia’s po­lit­i­cal-mil­i­tary lead­er­ship,” Ha­jiyev said.

“AR­ME­NIAN armed forces shelled cen­tral mar­ket of Ganja. How mar­ket could have any mil­i­tary im­por­tance? This in­dis­crim­i­nate mis­sile at­tack was done with sole pur­pose of caus­ing mass ca­su­al­ties among civil­ians. State ter­ror­ism of Arm agnst civil­ian Azer­bai­ja­nis con­tinue,” the aide of the Azer­bai­jani Pres­i­dent Il­ham Aliyev, Hik­met Ha­jiyev, un­der­lined.

Step­ping up its bel­li­cose rhetoric, the sep­a­ratist lead­er­ship of Nagorno-Karabakh threat­ened to “ex­pand sub­se­quent (mil­i­tary) ac­tions to the en­tire ter­ri­tory of Azer­bai­jan.”

Pre­vi­ously on Sun­day, sep­a­ratist leader Arayik Haru­tyun­yan had warned that it would now con­sider “mil­i­tary fa­cil­i­ties in Azer­bai­jan’s big cities” as “le­git­i­mate tar­gets.”

“I call on the res­i­dents of these cities to im­me­di­ately leave,” Haru­tyun­yan said in a post on Face­book.

On Sun­day, Ar­me­nia also hit the Khizi-Ab­sheron re­gion near Azer­bai­jan’s cap­i­tal Baku with midrange mis­siles.

Azer­bai­jan’s sec­ond-big­gest city, Ganja, came un­der heavy mis­sile at­tacks by Ar­me­nian forces lead­ing to the death of an Azer­bai­jani civil­ian while four oth­ers were wounded.

In state­ments posted on its web­site on Sun­day, Azer­bai­jan’s De­fense Min­istry said Ganja, a city in the coun­try’s west and sev­eral other civil­ian ar­eas were un­der fire from rock­ets and shelling.

“In­dis­crim­i­nate mis­sile at­tacks are launched against Ganja, Fuzuli, Tar­tar and Jabrayil cities of Azer­bai­jan from the ter­ri­tory of Ar­me­nia. Ganja is the sec­ond big­gest city of Azer­bai­jan. 500.000+ pop­u­la­tion,” Ha­jiyev said in a tweet.

Ar­me­nia de­nied that it had di­rected fire “of any kind” to­ward Azer­bai­jan, but the Ar­me­nian sep­a­ratist leader said his forces had de­stroyed a mil­i­tary air base in Ganja.

Arayik Haru­tyun­yan said his forces would tar­get Azer­bai­jani cities, adding: “Per­ma­nent mil­i­tary units lo­cated in the large cities of Azer­bai­jan from now on have be­come the tar­gets of the de­fense army.”

“De­liv­er­ing fire on the ter­ri­tory of Azer­bai­jan from the ter­ri­tory of Ar­me­nia is clearly provoca­tive and ex­pands the zone of hos­til­i­ties,” Azer­bai­jani De­fense Min­is­ter Zakir Hasanov said.

Mean­while, Azer­bai­jan’s armed forces lib­er­ated 22 set­tle­ments from the Ar­me­nian oc­cu­pa­tion amid on­go­ing bor­der clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh, Turkey’s De­fense Min­istry said yes­ter­day.

“Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion from re­li­able Azer­bai­jani sources, a to­tal of 22 set­tle­ments have been lib­er­ated from oc­cu­pa­tion so far in the op­er­a­tion launched by Azer­bai­jani Armed Forces to re­claim oc­cu­pied ter­ri­to­ries,” the min­istry said.

The mil­i­tary hung Azer­bai­jani flags in ar­eas lib­er­ated from Ar­me­nian oc­cu­pa­tion, a state­ment by the Azer­bai­jani De­fense Min­istry said on Twit­ter.

The min­istry shared a video show­ing

Azer­bai­jani troops walk­ing on the streets of Tal­ish vil­lage, which had been oc­cu­pied by Ar­me­nia since 1994. In a TV ad­dress on Sun­day, Aliyev said his coun­try was de­ter­mined to lib­er­ate Nagorno-Karabakh from Ar­me­nian oc­cu­pa­tion.

“Nagorno-Karabakh is Azer­bai­jani ter­ri­tory. We must re­turn, and we will re­turn,” he said, adding that Azer­bai­jan had waited 30 years to re­cover its lands.

Aliyev urged Ar­me­nia to set a timetable for the with­drawal of its oc­cu­pa­tion forces, while he vowed to re­build all of the cities that were lib­er­ated, in­clud­ing restor­ing all mosques that were dam­aged by Ar­me­nian forces. Turk­ish of­fi­cials have ex­pressed sol­i­dar­ity with Azer­bai­jan, say­ing that they would pro­vide nec­es­sary sup­port if Baku asked for it.

As soon as the vi­o­la­tions be­gan, Ankara re­it­er­ated its sup­port for Azer­bai­jan, with many of­fi­cials, main­stream par­ties and the Turk­ish For­eign Min­istry declar­ing un­wa­ver­ing back­ing of its broth­erly Tur­kic na­tion.

How­ever, al­though Turkey’s po­si­tion is in line with in­ter­na­tional law, some coun­tries tried to tar­get Ankara for its sup­port of Baku.

Bor­der clashes broke out last week when Ar­me­nian forces tar­geted Azer­bai­jani civil­ian set­tle­ments and mil­i­tary po­si­tions, lead­ing to ca­su­al­ties. Azer­bai­jan’s par­lia­ment de­clared mar­tial law in cer­tain cities and re­gions fol­low­ing Ar­me­nia’s bor­der vi­o­la­tions and at­tacks in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Re­la­tions be­tween the two for­mer Soviet na­tions have been tense since 1991 when the Ar­me­nian mil­i­tary oc­cu­pied Nagorno-Karabakh.

Four U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil (UNSC) and two U.N. Gen­eral Assem­bly (UNGA) res­o­lu­tions, as well as many in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions, have de­manded the with­drawal of the oc­cu­py­ing forces.

A view of the in­side of a build­ing de­stroyed by Ar­me­nian shelling in the Azer­bai­jani prov­ince of Barda, Oct. 4, 2020. (AA Photo)

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