Azerbaijan pledges fight ‘to the end’ as Nagorno-Karabakh war rages

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has said his country’s forces will “go to the end” should negotiations fail to result in an agreement by ethnic Armenian forces to withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions.

Aliyev, speaking during a meeting on Sunday with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, also said Armenia had “no basis” to request Russian military assistance in the conflict.

The conflict has brought into sharp focus the increased influence of Turkey, an ally of Azerbaijan, in a former Soviet region considered by Russia to be within its sphere of influence. Russia also has a security alliance with Armenia.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has asked Moscow to outline the extent of the support it could expect from Moscow.

In response, Russia’s foreign ministry said on Saturday it would provide “all assistance required” should the conflict spill onto “the territory of Armenia” – land that is outside the current conflict zone.

Aliyev, quoted by state news agency Azertac, said he wanted to resolve the conflict through negotiations that would result in the withdrawal of ethnic Armenian forces.

“Otherwise,” he said, “we will continue by any way to restore our territorial integrity and … we will go to the end.”

His comments came as fighting over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh entered its sixth week on Sunday, with both sides blaming each other for new attacks.

Nagorno-Karabakh officials accused Azerbaijan of targeting the town of Martuni with military aviation and several other areas with missile raids overnight. Azerbaijani forces continued shelling the region’s civilian settlements toward the beginning of the day, they said.

Azerbaijan’s defense ministry, thus, rejected the allegation of targeting civilian areas and accused Armenian forces of firing at the positions of the Azerbaijani army on the Armenia-Azerbaijan state border. The ministry also said Armenian forces were shelling settlements in the regions of Terter and Aghjabedi.

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