BAKU, October 15. /TASS/. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said mercenaries are not fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone on Azerbaijan’s side and no one has presented evidence to confirm the claims.
"We don’t have mercenaries. This is our official statement. Since the outbreak, already more than two weeks passed, not a single country presented us a single evidence of that. <...> Therefore, if there is no evidence I think these rumors should also remain in the past," Aliyev said in an interview with France 24 TV channel.
The president stressed that Azerbaijan does not need mercenaries. "We have an army of more than 100,000 fighters. And what we are doing now on the ground demonstrates that our army is capable to liberate its land itself," he stressed.
Aliyev again refuted claims of Turkey’s military participation in combat actions in the conflict zone. "Turkish military involvement is another fake news. There is no military involvement of Turkey. We are using Turkish military equipment, it is true, but we are using military equipment of Russia, military equipment of Israel and military equipment of other countries. <...> Turkey in no way other than political is present in the process, there are no Turkish forces," the Azerbaijani president said.
Renewed clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia erupted on September 27, with intense battles raging in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The area experienced flare-ups of violence in the summer of 2014, in April 2016 and this past July. Azerbaijan and Armenia have imposed martial law and launched mobilization efforts. Both parties to the conflict have reported casualties, among them civilians.
The conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory that had been part of Azerbaijan before the Soviet Union break-up, but primarily populated by ethnic Armenians, broke out in February 1988 after the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region announced its withdrawal from the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1992-1994, tensions boiled over and exploded into large-scale military action for control over the enclave and seven adjacent territories after Azerbaijan lost control of them. Talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement have been ongoing since 1992 under the OSCE Minsk Group, led by its three co-chairs - Russia, France and the United States.