Azerbaijan Closes Airspace With Armenia Amid Military Operation In Nagorno-Karabakh

On September 19, 2023, a significant development unfolded in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan closed its airspace to Armenia and launched what it defines as an "anti-terrorist" military operation.


The Conflict

The Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan accused Armenia of systematically shelling the positions of the Azerbaijani Army in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh. The ministry reported that six Azerbaijani citizens had been killed by land mines placed by Armenian forces in the region. In response, Azerbaijan initiated a localized "anti-terrorist" operation.

The Operation

The operation involved disabling front-line and deep positions, long-term firing points, combat vehicles, and military objects of the Armenian armed forces using high-precision weapons¹. Azerbaijani forces reportedly used drones to target the city of Stepanakert, the largest within the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh¹. Unconfirmed footage shared on social media shows air strikes targeting the outskirts of the city.

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The Background

Nagorno-Karabakh is recognized internationally as Azerbaijan's territory but has a mostly Armenian population who have resisted Azerbaijani rule for more than a century. In 1991, the region declared independence and has since ruled itself – with Armenian support – as the unrecognized Republic of Artsakh. This marks the first major resumption of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh since a ceasefire was reached in 2020 under mediation from Russia. The 2020 conflict stood out as one of the first instances of extensive deployment by the Azerbaijani armed forces of Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones and loitering munitions.


The Implications

This recent escalation could potentially reignite tensions in a region already fraught with historical disputes. It underscores the fragile nature of peace in areas with complex ethnic and territorial conflicts. As international observers monitor developments closely, it remains to be seen how this situation will evolve and what impact it will have on regional stability.

Endless Possibilities

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