The renewed fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh comes nearly two years after Armenia and Azerbaijan signed a peace deal in November of 2020 that ceased six weeks of fighting over the disputed region. File photo by Azerbaijan Defense Ministry/EPA-EFE
Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Renewed fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan erupted early Tuesday along their shared border, with both countries trading accusations that the other provoked the confrontation.
The firefight occurred in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is located within Azerbaijan's borders and where the two former Soviet Union nations have repeatedly clashed over the last few decades.
Armenia's defense ministry said in a statement that the fighting began at 12:05 a.m. Tuesday when Azerbaijani armed forces targeted its positions along their shared border with artillery, mortar and drones, resulting in an unknown number of casualties.
Both military and civilian infrastructure have been targeted, it said.
"The firefight, which began as a result of a large-scale provocation by the Azerbaijani side, continues with unabating intensity," the ministry said in a 4 a.m. update. "The Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia are giving an adequate response to the enemy and fully carrying out the combat tasks assigned to him."
The Ministry of Defense for Azerbaijan has rejected the accusations that it started the fighting as "nothing but nonsense" while accusing Armenia of being the "only aggressor and occupier in the region."
"In response to the large-scale provocation of Armenia, the Azerbaijan Army is conducting local countermeasures and neutralizing firing points," it said in its own statement. "Military-political leadership of Armenia bears responsibility."
It also accused Armenia of conducting "intensive shelling" near Dashkasan, Kalbajar and Lachin along the border.
Shortly after the fighting began, the United States said it was "deeply concerned" about the renewed clashes.
"As we have long made clear, there can be no military solution to the conflict," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. "We urge an end to any military hostilities immediately."
The fighting comes after the two countries signed a peace deal in November 2020 that ended six weeks of fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh and followed Azerbaijan's offensive to retake the disputed region that is recognized as an independent state and is home to thousands of ethnic Armenians.