Nagorno-Karabakh fighting continues despite ceasefire efforts

On Tuesday, Armenia and Azerbaijan reported more fighting over the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, where, despite two attempts to establish a cease-fire, clashes continued for over three weeks.

The Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan said hostilities continued overnight and accused Armenian forces of shelling Azerbaijan's Terter and Agdam regions in the morning.

On Tuesday morning in the southern areas of the conflict zone, Armenian Defense Ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanian reported "intense fierce battles" alleging that Azerbaijani forces were using aviation and artillery in the northern sector.

In a bid to stop the fighting that has killed hundreds since Sept. 27, when clashes resumed in the worst escalation of a decades-old conflict, the two countries announced a cease-fire on Saturday. The agreement was almost immediately challenged by mutual allegations of violations and the fighting resumed unabated, just like a cease-fire agreement brokered by Russia a week earlier.

Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan, but since the war there ended in 1994, it has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia. Armenian forces not only held Nagorno-Karabakh itself until then but also captured significant areas outside the borders of the territory.

According to Nagorno-Karabakh officials, 773 of their troops, along with over 30 civilians, have been killed since Sept. 27. Azerbaijan has not revealed its military losses but claims that 61 civilians have died and 282 have been injured so far.

The deadly flight gave rise to calls for an end to hostilities from around the world and raised concerns about a broader conflict between Turkey, which has publicly supported Azerbaijan, and Russia, which has a security pact with Armenia.

Moscow hosted Armenia and Azerbaijan's foreign ministers on Oct. 9. They announced a cease-fire deal after more than 10 hours of talks, which was breached minutes after it took effect.

The new truce announced on Saturday followed the calls of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts, in which he strongly urged them to comply with the Moscow deal. Despite the agreement, fresh attacks have been reported by both parties.

The Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers are scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington on Friday. Last week Pompeo said Washington was making diplomatic efforts to help achieve a sustainable settlement to the conflict and called on both countries to “implement their agreed-upon commitments to a cease-fire."

Russia, the U.S., and France co-chair the so-called Minsk Group set up by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in the 1990s to mediate the conflict.

Publish : 2020-10-20 20:01:00

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