Dozens of 'high-ranking' Turkish military leaders are coordinating Azerbaijani operations in Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has alleged.
"According to information provided by our military, in addition to the units of the Azerbaijani Army, Syrian mercenaries and terrorists, Turkish special forces are involved in the attacks. According to our information, about 150 high-ranking Turkish military personnel are commanding military operations from inside Azerbajani Army command posts," Pashinyan said in a television address Saturday.
"It has been a week since the Armenian people in Artsakh [the Armenian name for the unrecognised Nagorno-Karabakh republic] began resisting an Azerbaijani-Turkish terrorist offensive, the size and scale of which are unprecedented," the prime minister added, suggesting that no other recent 21st century conflict has seen the deployment of so many troops and so much military equipment.
"Hundreds of tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, thousands of shells and missiles, dozens of aircraft, hundreds of drones and tens of thousands of infantrymen are being used. They are attacking the Artsakh Defence Army along the entire length of the contact line, throwing 150-250 servicemen at a single position of the Defence Army. All these attacks are accompanied by aviation and artillery," Pashinyan said.
The Armenian leader suggested that despite the scale of its campaign, Azerbaijan has failed so far to gain victory. "Our military and volunteers show examples of heroism and steadfastness. Hundreds of pieces of enemy equipment, dozens of aircraft and helicopters, hundreds of drones have been destroyed. Losses of manpower exceed several thousand," he said.
On Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Baku to continue its operations in the Armenian-controlled region to their victorious conclusion, and promised that Turkey would continue to support "friendly and fraternal Azerbaijan in all possible ways."
Latest Escalation in Three Decade-Old Conflict
Clashes in the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh broke out early Sunday morning, with each side accusing the other of sparking the hostilities. The conflict first began over three decades ago, in 1988, when radical nationalist sentiments in both Armenia and Azerbaijan unleashed by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika and glasnost reforms prompted authorities in the majority ethnic Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous region within the Azerbaijani Soviet Republic to try to secede and join Armenia proper. Baku attempted to prevent this, and in late 1991 abolished the region's autonomous status. Between 1992 and 1994, Armenian and Azeri forces waged a full-scale war for the region, with the conflict killing as many as 42,000 soldiers, militiamen and civilians, and displacing over a million Armenians and Azerbaijanis, both within Nagorno-Karabakh and in other areas of both countries.