Iran warns Karabakh warring sides it won't remain indifferent to more shelling

16 Oct 2020

Iran warns Karabakh warring sides it won't remain indifferent to more shelling

By Press TV

October 16, 2020


Iran has denied media reports that its border guards have launched retaliatory attacks after rockets fired by Karabakh warring sides hit its border areas, but pledged to take action if such attacks are repeated.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh on Thursday lashed out at Armenia and Azerbaijan after several rockets fired during their war over the Nagorno-Karabakh region hit Iranian border areas.

"Unfortunately, worrying reports have been received today in this regard, and that is not at all acceptable," he noted.

The spokesman rejected a report by Rusonline that Iranian border guards had launched artillery and missile attacks in retaliation, but promised that Iran would not remain indifferent in case such attacks are repeated.

"Maintaining security and peace of the Iranian citizens living in border areas is the red line of the Iranian armed forces,” Khatibzadeh said.

Earlier this month, Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami warned the warring parties that Tehran will take stronger measures than warnings if shells fired in the fighting continue to hit the country’s border regions even by mistake.

“It is not acceptable at all that a bullet hits the Islamic Republic’s borders due to a mistake or carelessness,” Hatami said on October 6.

Since the beginning of the Karabakh conflict, Hatami said Iran's border areas had been shelled several times.

He added that Iran had already given Azerbaijan and Armenia “necessary warnings” in the wake of those incidents.

The defense chief said the lives of Iranian citizens and the country’s security are of vital importance, adding, “If this continues, broader measures will be adopted.”

According to reports, one of the mortar shells that hit a village in Khoda-Afarin county injured a six-year-old child and caused terror among residents. Dozens of other shells and rockets have damaged buildings in villages near the border.

Since late September, heavy clashes have been underway between Azerbaijani and Armenian military forces over Karabakh. Both sides blame each other for initiating the fighting in the Caucasus Mountains. A Russia-brokered ceasefire earlier this month unraveled shortly after a missile fired by Armenia hit the second Azerbaijani city of Ganja, killing nine civilians. 

‘Iran-Russia-Turkey initiative can settle Karabakh dispute’

On Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran was ready to help find a sustainable solution to the ongoing dispute through a joint initiative with Russia and Turkey.

During a Thursday phone call with his Azeri counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov, Zarif discussed the proposal that foresees the Islamic Republic, Turkey, and Russia boosting a standing Minsk Group that has failed so far to resolve decades of territorial dispute between Baku and Yerevan.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group -- a body comprising Russia, France, and the United States -- was created in 1992 to supposedly encourage a negotiated resolution to the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but it is held by Armenia-backed separatists since 1992 when they declared secession in a war which killed 30,000 people.

With hundreds of civilians and armed forces feared dead on both sides, the firefight has proven the deadliest since 1994 when a ceasefire was declared after Armenians ran over the region, forcing about 1 million Azerbaijanis to flee their homes. 

Zarif’s offer came as decades of mediation by the Minsk Group have unexceptionally fallen short of the goal.