Azerbaijan’s military is close to victory over Armenian forces in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sind on Saturday, a claim which could not be independently verified.
“God willing, we are nearing victory. May God help them [Azerbaijan],” Erdogan said in the Mediterranean city of Kahramanmaras, citing a phone call earlier on Saturday with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, to whom he referred to as “my brother”.
Turkey has vowed to support predominantly Muslim and ethnically Turkic Azerbaijan by all means necessary but has denied Armenia’s allegations that it has directly participated in the fighting.
Armenia is seen lacking support from its traditional ally Moscow as fighting around the mountainous enclave rages on since September 27 amid failed ceasefire efforts by the US and Russia.
Azerbaijan’s military has taken control of another 16 villages in Nagorno-Karabakh, Aliyev wrote on Twitter on Saturday.
The authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia so far conceded only minor territorial losses.
The region has been controlled by Christian Armenian troops for more than a quarter-century but is considered by the United Nations as part of Azerbaijan.
Armenia on Friday reported intense attacks on the key town of Shushi and the regional capital Stepanakert.
Tens of thousands of civilians have been displaced by the fighting, the United Nations said in a statement earlier this week.
Nagorno-Karabakh recently reported more than 1,100 of its soldiers were killed, while Azerbaijan does not provide any information on its military casualties.