The disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh experienced on August 3 a new round of military escalation, that saw the Azerbaijani combat drones attacking Armenian forces for the first time in several months.
The escalation began when the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense said that Armenian forces had attacked Azerbaijani military positions in the region of Lachin, which is under the supervision of the Russian peacekeeping force, killing an Azerbaijani soldier.
Hundreds of Russian peacekeepers are currently deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh to enforce the ceasefire reached after the war of 2020. The war broke out as a result of a large-scale offensive by Azerbaijan, whose military was able to capture a large part of the disputed region.
“On the morning of August 3, members of illegal Armenian armed detachments in the territory of Azerbaijan, where the Russian peacekeeping contingent is temporarily deployed, subjected to intensive fire the Azerbaijan Army positions stationed in direction of the Lachin region.
A serviceman of active military service – soldier Kazimov Anar Rustam became Shehid [killed in combat] as a result of a bullet wound,” a statement released by the Azerbaijani MoD reads.
In response to the alleged attack, the Azerbaijan military targeted several positions of Armenian forces on the northwestern part of the frontline in Nagorno-Karabakh with artillery and combat drones.
The Azerbaijani MoD shared footage of three strikes, which were carried out by Turkish-made Baykar Bayraktar TB2 combat drones. The strikes targeted a fortified position, a battery of towed howitzers and a military truck.
The strikes were the first since March, when Azerbaijani drones killed three Armenian soldiers after a similar escalation.
The ministry of defense of the breakaway state of Artsakh said in a statement that the Azerbaijani strikes killed two Armenian soldiers and wounded 14 others. At least two of the wounded are currently in a critical condition.
“As we have already reported, on August 3, starting at 09:00, Azerbaijani units, grossly violating the ceasefire, with the use of mortars, grenade launchers and UAV strikes, shelled military positions and the place of permanent residence of one of the military units, as a result of which Artsakh contract servicemen Gurgen Gabrielyan and Artur Khachatryan died. Another 14 soldiers were injured to varying degrees. Measures are being taken to stabilize the situation with the command of Russian troops carrying out a peacekeeping mission in the Republic of Artsakh.
As of 6:00 p.m., the operational and tactical situation is relatively stable,” the statement reads.
Nagorno-Karabakh experienced tensions on July 31, when Azerbaijan also accused Armenian forces of attacking its troops. Later on, several reports speculated that Baku is preparing to launch a new large-scale offensive in the disputed region.
Russia is yet to comment on the tense situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. Moscow will likely use its strong relations with both Baku and Yerevan to prevent any further escalation.