Armenian and Azerbaijani forces are engaged in intense fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region after Azerbaijan launched a large-scale new offensive on Saturday, Armenian officials said.
Armenia said that 51 more separatist soldiers had died in clashes with Azerbaijani forces in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region as fighting over the disputed territory entered a seventh day.
The government published a list with the names of the 51 dead servicemen on its website, hours after the leader of the separatist region, Arayik Harutyunyan, said a “final battle” was under way with Azerbaijani forces and that he was joining the fighting on the Karabakh frontline.
“The nation and motherland are under threat. Time has come for the entire nation to become a powerful army,” Mr. Harutyunyan told journalists before joining troops at the battlefield.
Baku and Yerevan have defied international calls for a ceasefire and accused each other of starting clashes that began last Sunday and have seen the heaviest fighting since a 1994 ceasefire.
“Heavy fighting is ongoing on other flanks,” Armenian Defence Ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan said wrote on Facebook.
Karabakh Army spokesman Suren Sarumyan said Azerbaijani forces, who were using aviation, drones, and tanks met “heroic resistance” from separatist fighters.
The Azerbaijani Defence Ministry claimed its forces had “captured new footholds (in Karabakh) and cleaned up the territory from enemy troops.”
Nearly 200 people have been confirmed killed since the fighting erupted last Sunday, including more than 30 civilians. There are fears the fighting could expand into an all-out, multi-front war involving regional powers Turkey and Russia.