Last week’s deadly fighting around Nagorno-Karabakh thrust the Armenians into a state of panic that will increasingly threaten the very existence of their “fascist” country, according to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
Aliyev sought to put a brave face on heavy casualties suffered by the Azerbaijani military in those truce violations as he visited an army unit stationed east of Karabakh and met with soldiers serving there. He again pledged to win back not only Karabakh and surrounding Armenian-controlled territories but also “historic Azerbaijani lands” allegedly making up much of modern-day Armenia.
“A week ago Armenian occupation forces cowardly attacked our positions under the cover of darkness,” Aliyev said in remarks posted on his website late on Wednesday, several hours after official statements on his visit to the frontline. “We suffered losses, our soldiers became martyrs … At the same time, the enemy got an adequate response.”
“Today the enemy is in a state of panic and hysteria,” he claimed. “We know that. We have sufficient possibilities of knowing what’s happening on the opposite side. We have fully gained a military and moral advantage.”
At least 15 Azerbaijani soldiers have reportedly been killed since the escalation on July 31 of fighting along “the line of contact” around Karabakh and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. The official Armenian combat death toll in the same period stands at 6.
The commander of the Karabakh Armenian army, General Movses Hakobian, said on Sunday that his troops carried commando raids in retaliation for increased Azerbaijani incursions along “the line of contact.” Hakobian portrayed the outcome of the fighting as a serious setback for Baku which exposed the latter’s inability to forcibly end the Karabakh conflict.
In a written appeal circulated late on Wednesday, Hakobian warned Karabakh Armenian soldiers to expect more Azerbaijani attacks. “Comrades in arms, our successes must not give rise to complacency,” he said.
Citing its massive military buildup, a uniform-clad Aliyev again claimed that Azerbaijan is capable of regaining control over Karabakh “at any moment.” “Today the Azerbaijani army can destroy any facility in Nagorno-Karabakh,” he said.
Aliyev also made a fresh mention of “historic Azerbaijani lands” in Armenia proper. “We, the Azerbaijanis, must and will return to these lands,” he declared.
The Azerbaijani leader went on to urge Armenians to topple their “criminal and corrupt leadership.” “Or else, great calamities will await Armenia,” he said. “If the fascist Armenian state does not renounce its dirty actions, then the very existence of the Armenian state could be called into question.”