A major conflict involving tanks, artillery and infantry has broken out between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabak has broken out and escalated rapidly over the last 72 hours.
Nagorno-Karaback is a disputed territory, internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but mostly governed by the Republic of Artsakh (formerly named Nagorno-Karabakh Republic), a de facto independent state with an Armenian ethnic majority established on the basis of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. It has a Christian population of around 146,000.
Fighting previously broke out between the two countries over Ngorno-Karabak in 1988. That was followed by a ceasefire in 1994. However, numerous clashes have occurred since and tensions have remained consistently high.
Is the conflict important?
Not withstanding the fact that there are 146,500 civilians caught in the conflict area, there is, potentially, a risk of the conflict escalating and sucking in Turkey and Russia. Ankara has pledged to step up backing for its majority-Muslim ally Azerbaijan and Armenia's ambassador to Moscow said on Monday that Turkey had sent around 4,000 fighters to assist Azerbaijan.
On the other hand, Moscow sides with Orthodox Christian Armenia and provides it with military support.
The Parliamentary President of the world's largest inter-governmental security arrangement, the 'Organisation for Security & Cooperation in Europe', George Tsereteli, stated:
“I am deeply concerned by this most recent escalation, particularly by reports of civilian deaths and the threat that it poses to regional security. As stated today by the Co-Chairs, the sides must take all necessary measures to stabilize the situation on the ground. There is no alternative to a political solution.”