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Did Iran stop an Azerbaijani advance in the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War?

21 October 2021
Video still from Caliber YouTube video.

According to a report by an Azerbaijani military news outlet, as well as one major international journalist, the Iranian military crossed the internationally recognised Iranian-Azerbaijani border on the Aras river and briefly halted advancing Azerbaijani forces.

The claim was made in a video published by the Azerbaijan-based Caliber military news outlet on 10 October. According to Caliber, a small contingent of Iranian troops wielding small arms set up concrete barriers and prevented a further advance for ‘several days’.

Reportedly, after negotiations, the Iranian troops then withdrew back to their side of the border. 

Ragıp Soylu, the Turkey Bureau Chief for Middle East Eye, a London-based online publication covering the Middle East, appeared to confirm the claim, tweeting on 10 October that the claim was ‘correct’ and that ‘one regional source’ and ‘one Azerbaijani official’ had confirmed the claim at the time.

OC Media has not been able to independently verify the claim. Responding to a request for comment, the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry referred OC Media to the State Border Service, who did not return multiple requests for comment.

The Caliber video was published during a diplomatic flare-up between Iran and Azerbaijan, during which Azerbaijan accused Iranian transport lorries of moving goods into Nagorno-Karabakh, while Iran accused Azerbaijan of harbouring Israeli state assets. 

At the beginning of the month, Iran carried out multi-day military exercises on its north-western border with Azerbaijan, which coincided with a thinly veiled threat made by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei towards Baku. 

[Read more: Analysis | What is behind the growing Iran-Azerbaijan tension?]

For ease of reading, we choose not to use qualifiers such as ‘de facto’, ‘unrecognised’, or ‘partially recognised’ when discussing institutions or political positions within Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia. This does not imply a position on their status.

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