Reports of Azeri Military Gains A Hoax Say Officials

YEREVAN (RFE/RL-Noyan Tapan)–The Armenian military categorically denied on Wednesday reports that the Azerbaijani army has made territorial gains in fierce fighting along the heavily fortified Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

An Azerbaijani radio station–ANS–claimed that Azerbaijani forces have liberated two Armenian-occupied villages in the country’s western Qazakh district without sustaining any casualties. It said–however–that the Defense Ministry in Baku declined to confirm the report.

Responding the report–Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Tsiunig Aghadjanian said: "I can say for sure that the Armenian army has not been involved in any military operations along the entire Armenian border recently. Armenian positions have not changed even a millimeter since the very first day of the cease-fire."

"They must be big dreamers," Colonel-General Mikael Harutiunian–chief of staff of the Armenian armed forces–told RFE/RL–denying the claims. He said there have been no major skirmishes along that section of the long frontier over the past two weeks.

Armenian and Azerbaijani troops stationed there reportedly exchanged fire earlier this month. One Armenian officer was shot dead in the cross-border shoot-out.

The two villages mentioned in the BBC-monitored report–Askipara and Baghanis Ayrum–appear to be tiny Azerbaijani enclaves inside Armenia’s northeastern Tavush region which were overrun by Armenian forces shortly after the start of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Another such enclave which belonged to Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave in the Soviet times has also been under Armenian control since 1991.

Azerbaijan likewise captured and effectively annexed an Armenian village located inside its territory in 1992.

Earlier this year–ANS announced the liberation of an Azerbaijani village east of Nagorno-Karabakh. The report was later refuted by both the Karabakh and Azerbaijani militaries.

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