News ID: 275440
Published: 0311 GMT October 12, 2020

Armenia, Azerbaijan clash as cease-fire fails to stick

Armenia, Azerbaijan clash as cease-fire fails to stick

Iran regrets truce violations

A cease-fire between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region failed to hold Monday as the two Caucasian rivals exchanged new fire while international mediators were to relaunch efforts for a sustained truce.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have for the last two weeks engaged in bitter fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region of Azerbaijan controlled by Armenians after a 1990s war and whose independence is recognized by no other state, AFP wrote.

The clashes, the worst since a 1994 cease-fire, have sparked fears of a wider regional conflict.

After 11 hours of talks between the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers in Moscow, the two sides agreed early Saturday to a humanitarian cease-fire.

But repeated clashes have so far made a mockery of the truce deal.

Thumping echoes of shelling could be heard in the Azerbaijani town of Barda not far from the frontline Monday morning.

In Karabakh's main city of Stepanakert, the sounds of shelling from the direction of the town of Hadrut could be heard.

"Armenian armed forces, which did not comply with the humanitarian truce, repeatedly tried to attack the positions of the Azerbaijan army," the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said.

It said it had destroyed a "large number of enemy forces" as well as one T-72 tank and three Grad multiple rocket launchers.

Armenian Defense Ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan said for her part that Azerbaijan was "now intensively shelling the southern front".

Armenia said that "the adversary suffered great losses of manpower and military equipment" but did not provide further details.

The 1990s war – which ended with the 1994 cease-fire that did not present a long-term solution to the conflict – resulted in the deaths of about 30,000 people.

Nearly 500 people including more than 60 civilians, have been killed in the latest fighting since last month, according to a tally based on tolls given by both sides.

The cease-fire negotiated in Moscow had agreed to pause hostilities to exchange prisoners and the bodies of people killed, with Azerbaijani officials insisting it was only going to be a temporary measure that would not halt its campaign.


Iran expresses regret   

Iran has expressed alarm over the reports of militants fighting in Syria being sent to Azerbaijan.

In a statement, the Iranian Foreign Ministry expressed regret "over the violation of the announced cease-fire", urging both sides to show restraint and resume talks.

The ministry also condemned attacks on infrastructure and residential areas and expresses condolences to the bereaved families.

The EU's diplomatic chief Josep Borrell said on Sunday he was concerned by "reports of continued military activities, including against civilian targets, as well as civilian casualties" in violation of the cease-fire.

The so far fruitless decades-long search for a settlement over Karabakh has been overseen by the Minsk Group of world and regional powers chaired by Russia, France and the United States.

Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan traveled to Moscow on Monday for a visit including meetings with the Minsk Group co-chairs as well as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Lavrov lamented at the start of the talks that the cease-fire "was not being fully observed" with fighting continuing. He expressed hope that talks with both sides would allow "the full implementation" of the agreements made in Moscow last week.



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