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Iran urges Azerbaijan, Armenia to exercise restraint amid border clashes

The file photo shows the destruction in Nagorno-Karabakh's main town, Stepanakert, following clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces. (Photo by TASS)

Tehran has voiced regret over reported casualties as a result of sporadic border clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia, urging the two neighbors to exercise restraint.

In a statement on Saturday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh lamented the deaths and injuries on both sides and highlighted the need for Baku and Yerevan to resolve their border disputes peacefully.

Khatibzadeh also stressed the necessity of overcoming tensions and conflicts and achieving lasting peace in the South Caucasus as soon as possible.

He added that the Islamic Republic stands ready to help the two sides reach sustainable peace.

One Azerbaijani soldier was reportedly killed and three Armenian soldiers injured in the latest round of tensions between the two countries, which saw Azerbaijani and Armenian forces exchanging fire for several hours along a section of their border.

In a statement on Friday, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said the incident took place at the part of the border formed by its Kalbajar district, part of territory reclaimed by Azerbaijan last November.

It said Armenia’s “regular recent provocations, the attempts to aggravate the situation in the region by shelling the Azerbaijani positions are unacceptable and Armenia is responsible for the development of such a situation.”

For its part, Armenia said Azerbaijan tried to fly a drone into the Armenian airspace, drawing a response from the air defense units of the Armenian armed forces.

The Armenian Defense Ministry stated that Armenia “did not take any action until the moment that the Azerbaijani side started to shoot in the direction of the Armenian border guards. As a result of the intensive shooting caused by another Azerbaijani provocation, 3 Armenian servicemen received slight injuries. They have been transported to a hospital in Gegharkunik province.”

The two neighboring countries fought a six-week war last year in which Azeri troops drove Armenian forces out of swathes of territory they had long controlled in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave.

Although the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, ended in a ceasefire, clashes on the border have persisted at irregular intervals this year, occasionally causing fatalities.

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