BY DAILY SABAH
OCT 28, 2020 12:57 PM GMT+3
Armenian forces on Wednesday hit the city center of Azerbaijan’s Barda with missiles, setting multiple shops and vehicles on fire. At least 21 civilians were killed and more than 40 injured in the attack.
It would be the deadliest reported attack on civilians since new fighting over the occupied region of Nagorno-Karabakh broke out a month ago.
This follows Tuesday’s attacks that killed at least four civilians, including a toddler, in an Armenian missile strike on a village in Barda.
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said on Twitter that his country will seek revenge for the Barda attack on the battlefield and added that 13 more villages have been liberated from Armenian occupation.
Azerbaijan’s presidential aide Hikmet Hajiyev said Armenian forces have used cluster Smerch missiles in the attack.
“Following missile attacks to Tartar, armed forces of Armenia firing rockets to Barda. No lessons learned from yesterday’s killing of civilians with cluster weapons. Armenia must end its military occupation and #WarCrimes,” Hajiyev said on Twitter.
“Such deliberate War Crimes of Armenia are deplorable,” he added.
Azerbaijani Defense Ministry in a statement confirmed that “there are killed and injured people” and “civilian infrastructure was damaged.”
“Armenian armed forces, grossly violating the humanitarian cease-fire regime, have fired at the Barda city from the ‘Smerch’ MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System),” the ministry said.
Armenian defense ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanian denied the claim.
“The statement of the ministry of defense of Azerbaijan that the Armed Forces of Armenia allegedly hit the town of Barda with Smerch is groundless and false,” she said on Facebook.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday condemned the “flagrant and perfidious” attack on the city of Barda.
“We condemn these heinous attacks that Armenia continues against civilian people without differentiating between children, young or old. This perfidious policy that Armenia conducts to terrorize and kill civilians is the expression of the sick mindset that lies behind the Khojaly massacre,” the ministry said in a written statement.
“This latest attack has taken its place as a record of shame in the war crimes list of which Armenia will be held responsible,” it said, adding that it is time the international community, including the Minsk Group, set up by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and co-chaired by France, Russia and the U.S., show the necessary reaction to Armenian aggression.
A new U.S.-brokered temporary humanitarian truce between Azerbaijan and Armenia was announced Sunday and took effect at 8 a.m. local time (4 a.m. GMT) Monday.
Since the clashes erupted Sept. 27, Armenia has repeatedly attacked Azerbaijani civilians and forces, even violating three humanitarian cease-fires since Oct. 10. To date at least 65 Azerbaijani civilians have died and 297 have been injured.
Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan and seven adjacent regions.
Four U.N. Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and two from the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) as well as international organizations demand the “immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces” from the occupied Azerbaijani territory.
In total, about 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory – including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions – has been under illegal Armenian occupation for nearly three decades.
The Minsk Group was formed in 1992 to find a peaceful solution to the conflict but to no avail. A cease-fire, however, was agreed to in 1994.
World powers, including Russia, France, and the U.S., have called for a sustainable cease-fire. Turkey, meanwhile, has supported Baku’s right to self-defense and demanded the withdrawal of Armenia’s occupying forces.