YEREVAN (Combined Sources) — Armenia’s Ministry of Defense reported that Armenian forces on Monday killed five Azerbaijani soldiers when they attempted to infiltrate Armenian defensive positions in the province of Tavoush, in the early morning hours.
The ministry said that an Azerbaijani unit of 15-20 tried to cross the border into Armenia.
Three Armenian soldiers died fighting with Azerbaijani forces on Monday, as US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was in Armenia.
The clash took place 125 kilometers northeast of Yerevan, after border troops fired on “Azerbaijani infiltrators,” an Armenian Defense Ministry statement said.
The statement said “several” more Armenian troops had been wounded in the exchange of fire, which “repelled” the encroaching Azerbaijanis.
In the US, Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Democrat Howard Berman (D-CA) and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) on Tuesday issued strong statements condemning the cross-border Azerbaijani attack against Armenia.
In separate statements, several members of Congress urged Clinton to issue a clear rebuke of Azerbaijani aggression, expressed concern about pending US arms sales to an increasingly violent Aliyev regime, called for the strengthening of Section 907 restrictions on U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan, and offered their condolences to the families of the slain soldiers.
“This latest outrage by Azerbaijan’s military makes it even more important that Secretary Clinton condemn these belligerent actions during her visit to Baku later this week,” Schiff explained. “Azerbaijani provocations along the Line of Contact are a direct result of the war mongering rhetoric of the Aliyev regime and they must cease. We should fully apply Section 907 and prohibit the transfer of any arms or dual use items to Azerbaijan.”
Sherman stressed: “I strongly and unequivocally condemn Azerbaijan’s recent attack on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border killing three Armenian soldiers. The timing of this brazen attack — on the same day Secretary of State Clinton visits Armenia — highlights Baku’s utter contempt for its neighbors and its lack of commitment to the peace process between Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Azerbaijan. I call on the Administration not only to publicly condemn the attack but also to enforce Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act without exercising its waiver provisions. We cannot provide any type of aid to Azerbaijan as long as Baku blockades Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh and rebukes peace with its neighbors. We must also block the sale of any arms to Azerbaijan, especially as these can be used against Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh.”
Berman, who first raised an alarm last week about a pending US sale to Azerbaijan of military police surveillance hardware for helicopter border patrol purposes, noted that he is “deeply disturbed by press reports about a brazen, unwarranted cross-border attack by Azerbaijan that resulted in the tragic deaths of three Armenian soldiers and the wounding of five others. This outrageous action underscores the critical importance of preventing the recently proposed sale of U.S. military equipment to the Government of Azerbaijan — a sale I recently requested Secretary Clinton to halt. Aside from the possible military application of this equipment against Armenia, such a sale would send entirely the wrong message to Azerbaijan, particularly in light of this horrifying incident.”
Pallone added “this type of aggression warrants a forceful condemnation of Azerbaijan’s actions by the Administration. It is my hope that Secretary of State Clinton, who is currently visiting the Caucasus and will meet with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Baku on Wednesday, delivers a strong message that the United States will not tolerate this type of violence and will hold Azerbaijan accountable.”
Earlier in the day, while the Secretary of State was still in Yerevan, Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Chairman Ken Hachikian dispatched a letter calling on Clinton to condemn the fatal Azerbaijani attack.
“Azerbaijan’s aggression, on the very day of your arrival in the Caucasus, represents, in addition, of course, to a painful human tragedy for those young men who were killed and injured, a brazen attack upon the prospects for a fair and lasting peace in this region,” said Hachikian in his letter. “It is long past time that the Obama Administration abandon its practice of artificial equivalence – a failed policy whose only response to Azerbaijani aggression and threats of renewed war has been to issue generically-formulated and transparently toothless calls on all parties to refrain from violence.”