News   /   More

Armenia, Azerbaijan accuse each other of new attacks after ceasefire

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This is the aftermath of recent shelling during a military conflict over Karabakh, in Stepanakert (Khankendi) on October 8, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

Armenia and Azerbaijan trade accusations of new attacks just after a ceasefire goes into effect to end nearly two weeks of heavy fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The two sides agreed to implement the ceasefire from noon on Saturday, after 11 hours of talks in Moscow, but it took only minutes after the deadline for their forces to claim new attacks.

"A ceasefire is announced from 12 hours 00 minutes on October 10 on humanitarian grounds," said Lavrov early on Saturday after hours of Moscow-brokered negotiations between the two sides in the capital. 

But Armenian defense ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan said that "in disregard of the previously declared humanitarian ceasefire" Azerbaijani forces launched an attack on the frontline at 12:05 pm (0805 GMT).

Azerbaijan's defense ministry said Armenian forces had also carried out attacks on the frontline and were shelling two populated areas. "Armenia is blatantly violating the ceasefire regime," the ministry said in a statement.

The two sides had also accused each other of attacks just before the ceasefire deadline. 

Karabakh's ombudsman Artak Beglaryan said missiles had been fired at the region's main city Stepanakert while Azerbaijan said at least five populated districts were under heavy shelling.

The ceasefire — mediated by the International Committee of the Red Cross — allows the two warring sides involved in the conflict in Karabakh to exchange dead bodies and prisoners.

Russia's top diplomat also said Armenia and Azerbaijan had agreed to start seeking a lasting solution to the territorial dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

"Azerbaijan and Armenia begin substantive negotiations with the purpose of achieving a peaceful settlement as soon as possible," Lavrov told reporters, adding that the talks would be mediated by the Minsk Group of international negotiators.

Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and his Azeri counterpart, Jeyhun Bayramov, declined to speak to reporters following the negotiations that marked the first diplomatic contact between Baku and Yerevan since fighting over the breakaway enclave erupted on September 27.

Baku rules out concessions

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev had ruled out making any concessions to Armenia before the Russia-mediated talks began on Friday.

“Let those holding talks in Moscow know that it’s our territory and we won’t be making any concessions,” Aliyev said, underlining that there was only a military solution to the dispute.

“We are winning and will get our territory back and ensure our territorial integrity,” Aliyev said. “Let them abandon our territory in peace.”

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but has an Armenian population. The latest fighting has claimed over 400 lives, with each side blaming the other for instigating the conflict.

The Friday talks chaired by Lavrov came a day after Russia, France, and the United States initiated a peace drive at a meeting in Geneva, details of which have not been publicized.

Shelling, missile fire ahead of ceasefire 

Meanwhile, Armenian and Azerbaijani forces accused each other of bombing civilian areas even before the ceasefire was announced.

Artak Beglaryan, the region's rights ombudsman, said that Azerbaijan had fired missiles on civilian areas of Khankendi, the main city in Karabakh which ethnic Armenians call Stepanakert. The city has been under regular rocket and artillery fire over the past days.

Azerbaijan's defense ministry also said Armenian forces were shelling civilian areas of the country.

"Armenian armed forces are intensively shelling populated areas in Geranboy, Terter, Agdam, Agjaberdi, and Fizuli districts. Azerbaijan is taking reciprocal measures," the ministry said in a statement.

The two South Caucasus neighbors have for years been locked in a conflict over Azerbaijan’s breakaway, mainly ethnic Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh. A ceasefire agreed in 1994 failed to end the conflict.

Armenia claimed on Friday that 376 of its military personnel and 22 civilians had been killed since the beginning of the conflict.

Azerbaijan also claimed that 31 Azeri civilians had lost their lives and 168 others sustained injuries since September 27. Baku has not disclosed information about its military casualties.

UN calls for 'urgent ceasefire' in Karabakh

In a related development on Friday, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet voiced alarm at civilian suffering in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region and called for an "urgent ceasefire.”

In a statement, Bachelet said it was "deeply worrying that in recent days we have seen populated areas reportedly targeted and shelled with heavy weaponry in and around the conflict area."

Stressing that there was a need for "an urgent ceasefire due to the impact on civilians," the UN rights chief said, "I remind all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure.”

Bachelet also called on Yerevan and Baku to refrain from using "inflammatory, pejorative or discriminatory language to stoke divisions."

"Hate speech leads nowhere but to a mutually dehumanizing and destructive hatred that, as we tragically see now, periodically erupts into conflict and loss of life," she added.

Iran welcomes ceasefire in Karabakh

Also on Saturday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif welcomed the implementation of the ceasefire and praised it as a "step toward peace."

“Iran welcomes the cessation of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh as a step towards peace,” Zarif said in a tweet.

Iran welcomes cessation of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh as step toward peace.

We urge our neighbors 🇦🇿 and 🇦🇲 to engage in substantive dialogue based on respect for international law and territorial integrity.

We appreciate constructive efforts of our Russian neighbors.

— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) October 10, 2020


Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku