Three sources working in Nagorno-Karabakh reported that the its largest city hit by heavy bombarding on Thursday, and Reporters Without Borders appealed for the safe removal of civilians who it declars that are blocked in Stepanakert.
Reporters Without Borders, which is a nonprofit group, wrote on Twitter and called on the United Nations, the Council of Europe and Azerbaijan to do everything possible to allow an evacuation of civilians, including 80 local and foreign journalists.
Since the start of the fight on Sept. 27 in Nagorno-Karabakh, which is a mountainous enclave internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but it actually populated and controlled by ethnic Armenians, at least 1,000 people and maybe many more have been died.
Moreover, a freelance reporter working in Stepanakert, with the condition of private, informed Reuters by telephone that the city was under shelling before turning off the handset to avoid the risk of detection. While a second reporter, speaking by telephone from Stepanakert, said that the air raid siren hasn’t stopped all day,
Besides, a third journalist, from France, reported that certain reporters had left the city via a northern route because the main road to the Armenian capital, Yerevan, via the strategic region of Lachin was also under fire.
On Thursday, the ethnic Armenian-controlled Nagorno-Karabakh Emergency and Rescue Service declared that that Stepanakert, named also Khankendi by Azerbaijan, was being bombarded by Azeri forces. It said also said that heavy artillery had also been used in the town of Martuni, known by Azerbaijan as Khojavend, whereas Shushi, or Shusha, the second-largest city in the enclave, had been destroyed by the bombarding.
However, the defense ministry of Azerbaijan dismissed these accusations, and said that the city of Terter and a nearby village, as well as villages in the Aghdam region in the east of the conflict zone, had also been bombarded. But Ethnic Armenian forces dismissed this.
The ministry also declared that the fight operations continued with varying intensity around Aghdere – Martakert, in Armenian – and Khojavend.
The severest fighting in the South Caucasus for more than 25 years has highlighted the influence of Turkey, which is an ally of Azerbaijan, in a region once part of the Soviet Union and long controlled by Moscow that has a defense deal with Armenia.
Three ceasefires have failed to hold while assaults by both parties restarted within hours of a deal by the warring sides last Friday to avoid targeting civilians. The ethnic Armenian-controlled Nagorno-Karabakh defense ministry declars that 1,177 of its forces have been died since Sept. 27. While Azerbaijan does not reveal its military casualties, and Russia has estimated 5,000 deaths on both parties.