Karabakh Defense Forces Test Combat Readiness

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Nagorno-Karabakh’s army has held a fresh military exercise aimed at testing and strengthening their combat readiness, a military spokesman in Stepanakert said on Friday.

Lieutenant-Colonel Senor Hasratian told the Arminfo news agency that the exercise was envisaged by an annual training plan of the Defense Army of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR). “The NKR Defense Army periodically holds such exercises,” Hasratian said, calling the latest drill a success.

The drills come as ceasefire violations by Azerbaijan have become more frequent, prompting serious concern from foreign powers seeking to broker a peaceful solution to the Karabakh conflict.

Azerbaijani media reports have said the exercise began in the Aghdam district east of Karabakh earlier this week and involved heavy artillery and other military hardware. According to them, heavy fire could be heard and even seen in recent days from Azerbaijani-controlled areas across the nearby line of contact separating Karabakh Armenian and Azerbaijani forces.

Aydyn Mirzazade, a senior Azerbaijani lawmaker dealing with defense and security, condemned the war-games on Thursday, saying that they are aimed at intimidating the people of Azerbaijan. “Instead of holding constructive negotiations and liberating Azerbaijani lands, Armenia holds provocative military exercises,” he told the Day.az news service. “But the Azerbaijani army is ready to repel any aggression.”

The Karabakh Defense Forces already practiced military operations in the same area last October. That exercise was watched by Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and the top NKR leaders.

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