YEREVAN: Armenia’s parliament on Monday condemned what it said was a “full-scale military attack” by Azerbaijan on the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and said Turkey’s involvement in the crisis could risk destabilizing the region.
“The international community should take active steps to prevent not only aggression by Azerbaijan, but also Turkey’s ambitions to be involved in the ... conflict which will lead to the region’s destabilization,” parliament speaker Ararat Mirzoyan said.
Azerbaijani and Armenian forces battled for a second day after dozens were killed in an outbreak of heavy fighting that has raised fears of an all-out war between the longtime enemies.
Defense officials in both countries confirmed that intense clashes had continued overnight after erupting on Sunday along the frontlines of Nagorny Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian region that has broken away from Azerbaijan.
The separatists said on Monday that 15 more of their fighters had been killed, bringing the total reported death toll from both sides to 39.
With each side blaming the other for the latest fighting, world leaders have urged calm as fears rise of a full-scale conflict that could draw in regional powers Russia and Turkey.
Saudi Arabia expressed their worry about the situation and called on both sides to cease fire and seek peaceful solutions to the conflict, state news agency SPA reported on Monday.
Turkey meanwhile said that Armenia must stop its occupation of Azerbaijan’s lands and send back the “mercenaries and terrorists” it brought from abroad for stability in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
“Armenia must immediately halt its attacks, send back the mercenaries and terrorists it brought from abroad and withdraw from the Azerbaijan lands,” said Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, adding a ceasefire and peace are needed.
Turkey has said it will support Azerbaijan in the clashes, in which fierce fire was exchanged for a second day amid reports of at least 21 killed and hundreds wounded. Yerevan said Turkey was taking part in the clashes, but Baku denies this.
Ex-Soviet Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a territorial dispute over Nagorny Karabakh for decades, with deadly fighting flaring up earlier this year and in 2016.
The region declared its independence after a war in the early 1990s that claimed 30,000 lives but is not recognized by any country — including Armenia — and is still considered part of Azerbaijan by the international community.
The Karabakh defense ministry said on Monday 32 of its fighters had been killed in the latest clashes. Seven civilian fatalities were reported earlier, including an Azerbaijani family of five and a woman and child on the Armenian side.