As of October 13, clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces continue in the southern part of the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region, while on the other parts of the frontline Baku and Yerevan limited their military activity to exchange of artillery and aerial strikes. The humanitarian ceasefire signed by the sides in Moscow formally remains in force, but the terms of the ceasefire are not fulfilled by both sides.
The main point of instability is the town of Hadrut, which Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev announced to have been ‘liberated’ from ‘Armenian occupants’. However, Armenian forces apparently forgot to read his tweet and withdraw from the area. So, now, the Azerbaijani leader is forced to explain what’s going on.
On October 12, he sated that a large group of Armenian special forces attacked the town to make a few selfies for Armenian propaganda, but the attack was repelled. “Although from a strategic point of view, it does not matter so much for Armenia. They just take such a step to go there and take a selfie or report to their population. The Azerbaijani Army neutralized this large group,” Aliyev stressed.
The Armenian military says that the town is still in the hands of its forces and that it has successfully repelled another Azerbaijani attack there.
Turkey has been openly threatening Armenia with a joint Turkish-Azerbaijani advance if it does not surrender the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region to Azerbaijan. Meanwhile, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that “Baku cannot wait for justice for another 30 years” claiming that “Turkey is ready to support the fair position of the Azerbaijani side.” According to Akar, if the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh is not resolved in the near future, then the next step will be “the Azerbaijani-Turkish movement aimed at returning their land.”
Sources affiliated with Turkish-backed militant groups in Syria say that Ankara has been preparing a new deployment of militant groups’ members to Azerbaijan to support its war with Armenia. If the numbers of 1,500-2,000 fresh militants that are set to come to Azerbaijan are confirmed, this will not only make the estimated number of Turkish proxies deployed there from 4,000-6,000, but also confirm that Ankara is set to use its influence to motivate Azerbaijan to opt for the scenario of a further escalation.
Likely, the Turkish leadership seems the war in Karabakh as an important turning point, which, in the event of military success, will turn into the leading power in the Southern Caucasus and give additional momentum to its geopolitical expansion. It will also boost the popularity of Recep Tayyip Erdogan that positions himself as the leader of the Turkic world and a de-facto Sultan of his own Neo-Ottoman Empire.
According to the Armenian side, the Turkish military is already directly involved in the war. In particular, the presence of Turkish F-16s, Turkish special forces, military advisers and Turkish-backed Syrian militants in Azerbaijan are hardly deniable facts.
It is interesting to observe how for example the main version from Turkish and Azerbaijani sources about the Turkish F-16 jets switched from public denial of their presence to claims that they are not involved directly in the conflict and are just needed to deter Armenian aggression. Reports from the ground and the diplomatic posture of the sides indicate that Azerbaijan, supported by Turkey, is preparing a new military push against Armenian forces in the Nagorno-Karabakh region to consolidate and expand its initial gains before the winter.