Bulent Kilic / AFP through Getty Images
Fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nago-Karabakh region took another turn Sunday, with the two countries accusing each other of violating the latest ceasefire just minutes after it entered into force.
The small region in the South Caucasus has been the site of hundreds of military and civilian deaths, significant property destruction and heated tensions since violence erupted between the two countries in late September, intensifying a decades-long conflict.
Nagar-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is ruled by ethnic Armenians as a de facto independent state.
A humanitarian ceasefire, mediated by Russia, first came into force on October 10 and was met almost immediately by accusations of violating the ceasefire by both sides: Azerbaijan accused Armenia of trying to attack its oil pipelines, while Armenians objected that Azerbaijan was still trying to seize the disputed territory.
They said the decision was based on statements by the presidents of France, Russia and the United States, which constitute OSCE Minsk Group who has worked to resolve the conflict since 1992.
Both sides say the new ceasefire did not last long.
A spokesman for the Armenian Ministry of Defense cicerone that Azerbaijan had violated the agreement after four minutes by firing artillery shells in the north and missiles in the south.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan said in a declaration that Armenian forces began firing into the Jabrayil region two minutes after the ceasefire was supposed to take effect and continued its attacks throughout the morning.
“Azerbaijan remains committed to the humanitarian ceasefire, however, Azerbaijan reserves the right to take countermeasures to protect civilians and its positions,” the statement said.
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, said later that Azerbaijan had launched a “large-scale offensive operation” starting at 7:20 p.m.
“The breach of its commitments again shows the dishonest practices of the corrupt Baku regime,” he said. Baku is the capital of Azerbaijan.
Also the spokesman of the Armenian Ministry of Defense said Baku rejected an attempt to reach an agreement to withdraw wounded soldiers from the battlefield, adding, “the obvious reason was Azerbaijan’s planned offensive.”
In one declaration released Sunday, the Nago-Karabakh Foreign Ministry said international recognition of the territory is “the only way to stop the perfidious Azerbaijani-Turkish behavior that undermines the efforts and authority of international mediators”.
Turkey has openly supported Azerbaijan and blamed Armenia for the renewed fighting.
The fighting between the two nations has already caused considerable damage in Nago-Karabak, also known as the Republic of Artsakh.
Human rights of the Republic of Artsakh The People’s Advocate blamed “Azerbaijani aggression” for damaging several thousand homes and hundreds of cars in recent weeks.
The People’s Advocate reported that 36 civilians had been killed and 115 injured since October 16.
And quoting the Russian news agency Interfax, Reuters reported that the Nago-Karabakh defense ministry announced 37 military deaths on Sunday, bringing its total to 710 since fighting erupted in late September.
According to Azerbaijani officials, a 16 October rocket attack from Armenia killed 13 people, including three minors and injured 52.
The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, later said that Armenia would be held accountable.
“Our revenge takes place on the battlefield,” he said cicerone.
A spokesman for the United Nations Secretary-General condemned the October 16 attack, as well as “all attacks on populated areas affected by the conflict,” in a statement. declaration released Sunday.
The spokesman said the secretary-general regretted that both sides had ignored repeated calls from the international community to stop fighting and that both sides were obliged under international humanitarian law “to take continued care to save and protect civilians and civilian infrastructure.” in conducting military operations “.
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