September 27, 2020 – 11:47 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net – Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II is cutting short his visit to the Vatican to return to Armenia after Azerbaijan launched a large-scale offensive against Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) and is shelling civilian settlements on Sunday, September 27.
“Our homeland is calling on all of us to defend the rights of our nation, our sacred land, our future and our national dignity,” the Catholicos said in a statement.
The Catholicos was supposed to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican but said he would be cutting short his trip to immediately return to Armenia.
Armenian Defense Ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan has said that the Karabakh army has downed two helicopters, 14 drones, destroyed tanks of the Azerbaijani army. According to the spokesperson, the Azerbaijani military has launched an air and missile attack on Artsakh.
Karabakh Human Rights Defender Artak Beglaryan has said a woman and a child were killed in Azerbaijan’s shelling of civilian settlements of Martuni province in Karabakh, while two other civilians were injured.
Armenian Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan has already briefed Andrzej Kasprzyk, the Personal Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office, on the situation along the Karabakh contact line.
Karabakh President’s spokesperson Vahram Poghosyan has said the Azerbaijani military has been shelling the civilian settlements of Karabakh, including the capital Stepanakert.
The last major escalation on the contact line of Nagorno-Karabakh was in April 2016 when Azerbaijan resumed hostilities against Karabakh. Throughout the four-day military campaign, 64 soldiers, 13 volunteers and four civilians, including a child, were killed and more than 120 people were wounded on the Armenian side. According to information from the U.S. Department of State, Azerbaijan lost more than 270 people in total.