Those trying to intimidate Azerbaijan will come to regret it, Azerbaijani’s leader said Sunday, referring to the Armenian army's large-scale military provocations along the frontline early today.
In an address to the nation, President Ilham Aliyev said Armenian armed forces had fired on Azerbaijani settlements and military positions from several directions, using various types of weaponry, including heavy artillery.
"As a result of the enemy fire, there are casualties among the civilian population and our servicemen. Some people have been wounded. May Allah rest our martyrs in peace," he said, without giving a specific number of casualties.
Aliyev vowed to avenge the blood of the martyrs, saying the Azerbaijani army continues retaliation on Armenian military positions, and that many units of its military equipment have been destroyed.
"This is another manifestation of Armenian fascism," he said, adding that besides the attacks, Armenia continues its illegal settlements in Azerbaijani territories.
Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, or Upper Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan.
Multiple UN resolutions, as well as many international organizations, demand the withdrawal of Armenia’s occupying forces from Upper Karabakh and seven other occupied Azerbaijani regions.
The OSCE Minsk Group – co-chaired by France, Russia and the US – was formed in 1992 to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, but to no avail, despite several meetings.
Armenian occupation plans
Aliyev said Armenia plans to further occupy Azerbaijani lands and "doesn’t hide it."
"Its military and political leadership tried to threaten Azerbaijan with a new occupation, a new policy of occupation of new territories,” he said. "Azerbaijan will defend its territory, [Upper] Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan."
He argued that Armenia’s cease-fire violations are meant to distract the public from its grave social and economic problems and "paint Azerbaijan as an enemy."
"It is also doing this to disrupt the [Minsk group] negotiations, and has largely succeeded," he said. "This is the result of its hypocritical, unconstructive, and false policy."
He clarified that Baku has no military targets in Armenia, and this is why there is a cease-fire in place, as agreed to in 1994.
Aliyev said Armenia's military provocations against Azerbaijan have become more frequent recently.
This July, the Armenian army attacked Azerbaijani positions on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border with artillery fire, martyring 12 Azerbaijani soldiers, including high-ranking officers.
"It is no secret that Armenia launched the first attack, including artillery fire, and the first victims were Azerbaijani servicemen. Azerbaijan gave a fitting response to the enemy and they couldn’t move an inch forward. The enemy was stopped and our country’s territorial integrity was protected," Aliyev said.
On Sept. 21, clashes in the region flared up again when an Azerbaijani soldier was martyred, and another injured.
‘Armenia preparing for new war’
Separately, addressing the country's Security Council, Aliyev said that Armenia's military provocation was planned beforehand.
"They have been preparing for this provocation for a long time, and the intelligence we have shows that Armenia intends to start a new war against us," he said, adding that the "aggressive state" must be stopped.
He stressed that by opening fire on the civil settlements along the border, the Armenian army wants to sow panic among the country's people as well as villages and towns along the frontline.
"This morning, I received information from all frontline regions. I can say with full confidence that the citizens of Azerbaijan are showing courage. Everyone is in their place and ready to support our army and state at any time, and they are doing that."
In his speech, Aliyev also told how in 2016 border clashes, some Azerbaijani territories in the Aghdara, Fuzuli and Jabrayil districts were liberated from Armenian occupiers.
"Today, in 2020, I want to emphasize once again that several of our settlements were liberated from the occupiers, several strategic heights came under the control of Azerbaijan. A strong Azerbaijani Army is based on a strong political will," Aliyev told the country's security council.
Azerbaijani officials so far reported at least 7 villages liberated from Armenian occupation.