A series of clashes on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border has resulted in the deaths of three Azerbaijani soldiers in the heaviest fighting between the two sides in years. Each side accused the other of starting the fighting, which included heavy artillery fire from both sides.
According to an Armenian military spokesperson, who was the first to report the clashes, they began in the afternoon of July 12: “An Azerbaijani jeep, for reasons unknown to us, attempted to violate the state border of Armenia in the area of Tavush. After a warning by the Armenian side, the enemy soldiers left the vehicle and returned to their position”.
The Azerbaijani defense ministry, for its part, said that the fighting was started by Armenia in order to capture a strategic position: “The armed forces of Armenia attempted an attack using artillery to capture our positions on the Tovuz direction of the Azerbaijani-Armenian state border. As a result of the adequate steps undertaken by our units, the enemy was defeated and driven back suffering losses”.
The two former Soviet republics have for decades been locked in a simmering conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway territory which was at the heart of a bloody war in the 1990s.