Conflict has broken out repeatedly since Armenians took control of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts from Azerbaijan in a war after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
Fierce fighting involving tanks, aircraft and artillery broke out between Azerbaijan and Armenians on Sunday (Sept 27) in a conflict over land that's been disputed for decades. A top territorial official said 16 people were killed and more than 100 wounded, while Azerbaijan's president said his military had suffered losses.
Later on Sunday the Artsakh ombudsman reported casualties amongst the civilian population of Artsakh as an outcome of the enormous Azerbaijani offensives.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan declared martial law and ordered a general mobilisation, after accusing Azerbaijan of "preplanned aggression".
At the Vatican, Pope Francis said Sunday thathe was praying for peace between the two countries, urging them to them to "accomplish concrete deeds of goodwill and fraternity" to reach a peaceful solution through dialogue.
Local soldiers backed by Armenia also occupy some Azerbaijani territory outside the region.
He accused Armenia of "being the biggest threat in the region to peace and stability" and criticized the global community for failing to give the "necessary and sufficient reaction" to Armenia's "aggression".
The Armenian foreign ministry also said there would be an "appropriate military and political response".
Both Armenia and the breakaway region of Nagorny Karabakh declared martial law and military mobilization.
TANJUG Armenian's Defense Ministry via AP
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin also condemned Armenia.
Stepanyan said the fighting Sunday began with an Azerbaijani attack, but Azerbaijan said the Armenian side attacked and that Azerbaijan launched a counteroffensive.
Putin expressed "serious concern" and called for a halt to hostilities.
Nagorno Karabakh is a mainly ethnic Armenian region that is internationally recognized as a part of Azerbaijan.
"In order to suppress the combat activity of the armed forces of Armenia and ensure the safety of the civilian population, the command of the Azerbaijan Army made a decision to launch a counter-offensive operation of troops along the entire front".
He stressed the need to intensify the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs with a view to reinstating peace in the region.
Political observers said global powers should intensify talks to stop the conflict.
"We are a step away from a large-scale war", Olesya Vartanyan of the International Crisis Group told AFP.
According to intelligence data, almost 4,000 mercenaries from Syria are taking part in the military operations unleashed by Azerbaijan against Artsakh.
"War is resuming. Time for Russia, France and United States, individually and jointly, to stop it", tweeted Dmitry Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Centre. In addition to targeting civilian settlements during the fatal clashes, Armenia's military threatened to hit Azerbaijan's largest hydropower station located in the central city of Mingachevir.
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