Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey will stand with Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, calling on it to continue the assault and drive the Armenian forces out.

Erdogan reiterated Ankara’s “full support” for Baku during his Friday speech at the inauguration of a city hospital in the central Turkish province of Konya.

“The brotherly state of Azerbaijan has started a great operation both to defend its own territories and to liberate the occupied Karabakh,” he said. “Turkey stands with and will continue to stand with friendly and brotherly Azerbaijan with all our means and all our heart.”

Erdogan’s statement comes hours after the violence intensified in Nagorno-Karabakh with the region’s capital, Stepanakert enduring artillery strikes which left scores of people wounded, according to Armenia.

An intense military confrontation between Yerevan and Baku broke out on September 27. The two sides clashed over territory which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is populated by ethnic Armenians seeking independence from Baku with support from Yerevan.

The conflict had been in a frozen state for decades since the early 1990s. While it saw several major flare-ups occurring in 2014, 2016, and in July of this year, the current escalation marked with casualties on both sides is the most serious so far.

Ankara declared its unwavering support for the “brotherly” nation of Azerbaijan at the beginning of the standoff, offering both military and diplomatic assistance. It also dismissed calls for peace by Moscow, Washington, and Paris on Thursday, reiterating that the withdrawal of Armenian forces from Nagorno-Karabakh is a precondition for a ceasefire.

Armenia has repeatedly accused the Turkish military of aiding the Azeri army and even directly engaging and shooting down Armenian military aircraft – something that Ankara has denied.

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