Armenia, Azerbaijan agree to new Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire

Armenia, Azerbaijan agree to new Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire

A humanitarian ceasefire will take effect Monday morning in the fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the mountainous enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, a joint statement from the U.S. State Department and the two governments said on Sunday.

In a separate statement, the OSCE Minsk Group, formed to mediate the conflict and led by France, Russia and the United States, said its co-chairs and foreign ministers would meet again on October 29 to discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.

Fighting over the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh region was ongoing on Sunday.

Nagorno-Karabakh’s military accused Azerbaijani forces of shelling civilian settlements in the areas of Martuni and Askeran on Saturday evening and said that battles “on all directions of the frontline” took place on Sunday morning. Azerbaijan’s Defence 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 Sept. 27, has gone on despite numerous calls for the cessation of hostilities and two attempts at establishing a cease-fire. It is the biggest escalation in years over the region that lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since the end of a separatist war in 1994.

Smoke rises after shelling by Azerbaijan’s artillery during a military conflict in Stepanakert, the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, on Saturday. (The Associated Press)

According to Nagorno-Karabakh officials, 974 of their troops have been killed in the clashes so far, as well as 37 civilians. Azerbaijani authorities hasn’t disclosed their military losses, but said that 65 civilians were killed and about 300 were wounded on their side.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that according to Moscow’s information, the death toll from the fighting neared 5,000, which is significantly higher than what both sides report.

Russia brokered two cease-fire agreements earlier this month, but both frayed immediately, with Armenian and Azerbaijani forces accusing each other of multiple violations. On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hosted the Armenian and Azerbaijan foreign ministers for separate talks, but the fighting has continued unabated.

Published at Sun, 25 Oct 2020 19:10:47 +0000