Explosions attributed to artillery and drones were reported by residents of Vardenis, Jermuk, Goris, and Tatev – cities within Armenia proper – shortly after midnight on Tuesday. Armenia has blamed neighboring Azerbaijan for the attack, RT reported.
Shots are being fired “along the entire line of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border,” and the government in Yerevan has called an urgent meeting, according to local media.
The Armenian Defense Ministry said the army of Azerbaijan has used heavy artillery and drones are also being used. A Turkish-made Bayraktar drone was allegedly shot down over Vardenis, which is in northern Armenia and not adjacent to the disputed region of Nagorno Karabakh. Armenian troops are “giving an adequate response,” Yerevan said.
The intense firefight which began as a result of the large-scale Azerbaijani provocation still continues, according to the Armenian Ministry of Defense spokesperson Aram Torosyan. “The exchange of intensive gunfire sparked by the large-scale Azerbaijani provocation is continuing,” he said.
“The Armed Forces of Armenia are taking adequate countermeasures. The Ministry of Defense will regularly issue official updates on the developments,” added Torosyan.
Starting at 12:05 a.m. on September 13, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces launched intense artillery and large caliber firearm shelling of Armenian positions in the direction of Goris, Sotk and Jermuk.
The Azerbaijani forces are also using UAVs in the attack, the Armenian Ministry of Defense said.
Armenia’s Defense Ministry said that the “intensive” shelling began shortly after midnight. It gave no other details.
Residents of several Armenian border communities told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that they are hearing powerful explosions and gunfire. The mayor of one such village, Verin Shorzha, spoke of “intensive gunfire” coming from Azerbaijani army positions across the local section of the long border.
Another local government was quoted by news.am as saying that the residents of the nearby village of Norabak are fleeing their homes.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held a telephone conversation with President Vladimir Putin of Russia and provided a detailed briefing of Azerbaijan’s attack on Armenia.
The government of Azerbaijan said Armenia “began widespread provocations” against the Azeri armed forced, which responded with “intensive fire” on Armenian positions.
“This evening my thoughts are with Armenia and Armenians. Azerbaijan launched a large-scale attack, once again violating the territorial integrity of our friendly country. Tomorrow I will immediately appeal to Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna so that France stands by Armenia,” wrote French MP Sabrina Agresti-Roubache in a post on Twitter.
This is a developing story.