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Serious incidents reported in Karabakh conflict zone early Saturday morning; incidents spread to international border (Updated 5)
25 February 2017

Update 5 1800 CET

Whilst fighting has been going on sporadically throughout the day in the Karabakh conflict zone, another battle has raged, this time in the information sphere. The Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs of both countries have been busy putting across their version of events.

Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman Tigran Balayan tweeted that Armenia had brought the incidents to the attention of the international community

The Armenian Foreign Ministry also issued a statement blaming Azerbaijan for the incidents.

Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Hikmat Hadjiev has also been busy giving his country's version of events, and stating that Armenia had launched the provocation to deflect attention of the international community from the anniversary of the Khojaly massacre.

Politicians have now joined in, with statements from MPs and political leaders from both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

In the meantime defence Attaches in diplomatic missions in Yerevan were called to the Armenian Defence Ministry where they were briefed on the situation by Armenian officials.

Update 4 1630 CET

Both sides in the Karabakh conflict continue to report incidents in the Karabakh conflict zone on Saturday (25 February). Azerbaijan earlier said it had suffered casualties during an attempted Armenian incursion overnight. Later in the day the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry said it had destroyed an Armenian firing position in the Karabakh conflict zone and that a number of Armenian soldiers have been killed.

On its part Armenia has so far not admitted incurring any casualties. Armenia said that Azerbaijan made two attempts to penetrate the buffer zone between the two sides last night. It said that during the incident a number of Azerbaijani soldiers were killed. It has now also released names of two officers that it says were among the dead. It reports that some of the bodies of the dead are still in the buffer zone.

Earlier Armenian also said that there were incidents on the international border with Azerbaijan.

Armenian analyst Richard Giragosian wrote on his facebook page on Saturday afternoon:

As the risk of renewed hostilities over Karabakh is clearly escalating, a repeat offensive by Azerbaijani forces within the coming two months is ever more likely. Similar to the April 2016 offensive, the temptation for Azerbaijan to seek a repeat military success, aimed at seizing and securing territory, combined with the effective distraction from Azerbaijan's domestic economic problems, suggest a dangerous and destabilizing fresh round of fighting. However, there are two distinctly different factors that will limit the potential gains from any renewed offensive by Azerbaijan- the element of surprise is no longer an advantage, and second, the defending Armenian and Karabakh sides are better equipped to repulse any attack. 
Therefore, the next round of fighting may be more deadly, as the Azerbaijani offensive will quickly stall, becoming more of a drawn out battle of attrition that may trigger the deployment and use of more deadly offensive weapon systems, including artillery, multiple launch missile launchers and (rotary wing) air power. Sadly, as diplomacy remains deadlocked, there is no real deterrence to such a scenario.

The incidents are taking place as Azerbaijan is preparing to mark on Sunday the 25th anniversary of the massacre in Khojaly in which nearly two hundred Azerbaijani civilians were killed at the height of the fighting in 1992.

Update 3 1430 CET

Armenia claims that Azerbaijan has fired artillary shots across its international border, away from the Karabakh conflict zone. Spokesperson for the Armenian Ministry of Defence, Artsrun Hovhannisyan, said that Azerbaijan opened fire in the directions of the Armenian border village of Baghanis killing two cows. The official Armenpress news agency described the incident as a provoation and accused Azerbaijan of targeting civilians.

Politicians in both countries have been making inflamatoury statements throughout the day, accusing the other side of starting the incidents and promising response

Other reports suggest that the situation on the line of contact in the Karabakh conflict zone calmed down during the day.

Update 2 - 09.15 CET

There is now an official Azerbaijani account of the incidents this morning in the Karabakh conflict zone. Azertac, the official news agency of Azerbaijan quotes a statement by the Azerbaijani Defemce Ministry stating:

"On February 25 at midnight, the Armenian Armed Forces' military units have made an attempt to penetrate into the positions of Azerbaijani Armed Forces in different directions with the aim to carry out a large-scale provocation on the frontline," Azerbaijan`s Defense Ministry said.

"As a result of constant surveillance of the enemy, setting up ambushes and combat security, the enemy action has been identified in advance. The military units of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces have taken firm measures to prevent the enemy penetration to the depth of our defense."

According to the Ministry "fierce fighting took place between the enemy, trying to seize advantageous positions in Khojavand-Fuzuli direction of the front and our military units. The enemy forces were forced to retreat as a result of brave action of the units of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces which were standing in ambush set up in this direction.Azerbaijani side suffered losses as a result of fighting."

"Failing to move forward in various areas, the enemy using heavy artillery currently subjected to fire the positions of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces.In accordance with the operational situation, appropriate countermeasures are taken against the firing positions and staging areas of the enemy".

In the meantime the blame game continues. This is a tweet by the Armenian Defence Ministry

The whole responsibility for the consequences of the tension on the contact-line  are on military-political leadership of #Azerbaijan

Commonspace.eu is not in a position to verify the accuracy of the reports of events on the line of contact and, our coverage is based on Armenian and Azerbaijani sources to which we attribute the information whenever possible..

Update 1 - 09.00 CET

Details are starting to come in of the incidents that have been taking place this morning in the Karabakh conflict zone. The Ministry of Defence of the self-declared Nagorno-Karabakh Republic has claimed that it has killed two Azerbaijani soldiers during an attempted incursion.

We prevented #Azerbaijan 2 attempts of diversion,killed at least 2 servicemen in neutral zone, we have no losses.
Noticed movement of troops

Azerbaijan says there were two attempted Armenian incursions and that its troops suffered casualties whilst repellling them.

There are reports of heavy shelling and use of artillary but these cannot as yet be confirmed

....

Armenia and Azerbaijan report serious incidents in the Karabakh conflict zone overnight. The two sides accuse each other of attempted incursions. Azerbaijan says it has suffered casualties overnight.

Diplomatic sources say the situation on the line of contact is very tense.

source: commonspace.eu

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