New clashes break out in Nagorno-Karabakh after Washington talks

Cheryl Sanders
October 26, 2020

The decision on a cease-fire set to begin at 8 a.m. (0400 GMT) Monday was announced in a joint statement by the governments of the United States, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

A man enters a basement shelter in the city of Stepanakert during the ongoing fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, October 23, 2020.

New fighting has erupted between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces over the mountainous enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh as both sides blamed each other for blocking a peaceful settlement to the conflict.

In total, about 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory - including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions - has been under illegal Armenian occupation for almost three decades. Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry, in turn, alleged that Armenian forces shelled the Terter, Agdam and Aghjabedi regions of Azerbaijan.

The recent outburst of fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, which broke out on September 27, has gone on despite numerous calls for the cessation of hostilities and two attempts at establishing a ceasefire.

Turkey's involvement in the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, recognized internationally as part of Azerbaijan but controlled by Armenian separatists, has raised the concern of several Western countries since it said it wanted to help Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan said 65 Azerbaijani civilians have been killed and 298 wounded but has not disclosed its military casualties. This resulted in a full-scale war between Baku and Yerevan (1992-1994) that claimed the lives of an estimated 40,000 troops and civilians from both sides.

The latest agreement came after "intensive negotiation" between Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted.

"But, unfortunately, Armenia grossly violated the ceasefire [.] If they don't stop, we will go to the end with the aim of liberating all the occupied territories".

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan Saturday said he saw no diplomatic resolution of the conflict at this stage, but hoped the worldwide community, including India, would acknowledge the existential threat his country is now facing.

"I am absolutely confident in the effectiveness of the peace negotiations but this also depends on the will of the Armenian side to take part in them", Azerbaijan's president said.

The four weeks of fighting has prompted concerns of a wider conflict involving Turkey, which has thrown its weight behind Azerbaijan, and Russian Federation, which has a security pact with Armenia.

"He said that when Armenia expresses readiness for a compromise, Azerbaijan demands more", Gevorgyan said. Armenia has declared martial law and general mobilisation, while partial mobilisation and partial martial law have also been introduced in Azerbaijan.

Iran has occasionally complained about stray mortar rounds and rockets injuring people and damaging buildings in rural areas near the borders.

According to the statement, the Azerbaijani army destroyed two tanks, two armoured vehicles, four D-30 howitzers, one 2A36 Giatsint-B gun and seven cars belonging to the Armenian forces in different locations on the front.

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