"The Secretary-General calls in the strongest terms for an immediate cessation of hostilities, de-escalation and strict adherence to the 2020 ceasefire and the principles of international humanitarian law," spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

Azerbaijan has launched a military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh, a move that could portend a new war in the restive region, but Baku said it was necessary to restore constitutional order.

Following the start of the military operation, Armenian separatists in Nagorny Karabakh announced the evacuation of more than seven thousand people from 16 villages in the mountainous region.

Russia has called for an "immediate cessation of bloodshed and an end to hostilities" in Nagorno-Karabakh.

In Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated Azerbaijan's "support" in its decision to "defend its territory."

The EU's spokesman for the Middle East and North Africa, Luis Miguel Bueno, said the bloc condemned the military escalation along the Line of Contact and elsewhere in Karabakh.

Bueno called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and Azerbaijan's cessation of current military activities, noting the European Union's regret for the loss of life resulting from the escalation.

Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but a region run by ethnic Armenian separatist authorities say the region is its ancestral homeland.

The conflict over the region has caused two wars since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, most recently in 2020.