Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire strained by recriminations, fighting reports
October 12 2020 07:04 PM
Unexploded cluster bomblets collected after recent shelling during the military conflict over the br
Unexploded cluster bomblets collected after recent shelling during the military conflict over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh are seen on the outskirts of Stepanakert

Reuters/Baku/Yerevan

* Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire went into effect on Saturday
* Both sides accuse each other of violating ceasefire
* Fighting is deadliest in years in long-running conflict


Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces accused each other on Monday of launching new attacks in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, increasing strains on a two-day-old humanitarian ceasefire intended to end heavy fighting over the mountain enclave.
The fighting, the deadliest over Nagorno-Karabakh in over 25 years, is being watched closely abroad partly because of its proximity to Azeri gas and oil pipelines and the risk of regional powers Turkey and Russia being dragged in. 
The ceasefire is meant to allow ethnic Armenian forces and Azerbaijan to swap prisoners and bodies of people killed in two weeks of fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but governed and populated by ethnic Armenians.



But the ceasefire has frayed quickly. Azerbaijan said on Sunday it had launched air strikes against an Armenian regiment, following what it said was an Armenian rocket attack on an apartment building. Armenia denied carrying out such an attack. 
On Monday, Azerbaijan's defence ministry said Armenian forces had tried to attack its positions around the Aghdere-Aghdam and Fizuli-Jabrail regions, and were shelling territories in the Goranboy, Terter and Aghdam regions inside Azerbaijan.
Nagorno-Karabakh said its forces had inflicted losses on Azeri forces and that large-scale military operations were continuing in the Hadrut area of the enclave.



Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia, which has a defence pact with Armenia, was monitoring the events and asked Azeri and ethnic Armenian forces to respect the ceasefire.
Turkey said in a statement its defence minister, Hulusi Akar, had told Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu by telephone that Armenian forces must be removed from Azeri territory.
Turkey supports Azerbaijan's offensive to "retake its occupied lands", the statement said, adding that Baku "would not wait another 30 years" for a solution.
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Armenia's foreign minister, met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow. 
Accusing Azerbaijan of ceasefire violations, Mnatsakanyan said: "We want the ceasefire, we want verification mechanisms on the ground, which will indicate the perpetrator, which will demonstrate the party that is not faithful to this ceasefire."
The fighting is the worst since a 1994 ceasefire ended a war over Nagorno-Karabakh that killed at least 30,000. 
Azerbaijan said 41 Azeri civilians had been killed and 207 wounded since Sept. 27. It has not disclosed information about military casualties.
Nagorno-Karabakh said its military death toll had reached 480, and more than 20 civilians had been killed.



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