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New clashes between Armenia, Azerbaijan leave a number of Azeri servicemen dead

In this file photo taken on October 12, 2020, an unexploded BM-30 Smerch missile is seen on the outskirts of Stepanakert, during a military conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. (Photo by AFP)

Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry says a number of its forces have been killed in the latest exchange of fire with Armenian forces along the two countries’ border.

The announcement came in the early hours of Tuesday, after large-scale border clashes broke up in the latest flare-up between the two Caucasian countries.

Following the conflict, Armenian Defense Ministry issued a statement, saying, "At 00:05 a.m. (2005 GMT) on Tuesday, Azerbaijan launched intensive shelling, with artillery and large-caliber firearms, against Armenian military positions in the direction of the cities of Goris, Sotk, and Jermuk."

Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry, however, accused Armenia of "large-scale subversive acts" near the districts of Dashkesan, Kelbajar and Lachin on the border, adding that its army positions "came under fire, including from trench mortars."

"There are losses among (Azerbaijani) servicemen," the ministry said, without giving figures.

The new development came after Armenia accused Azerbaijan of killing one of its soldiers in a border shootout that took place last week.

Azerbaijan also said in August that it had lost a soldier while the Karabakh army said two of its troops were killed and more than a dozen injured.

Tensions between Yerevan and Baku remain relatively high nearly two years after the arch-foes fought a war over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. The six-week conflict, which claimed more than 6,500 lives on both sides, ended in November 2020 with a Russian-brokered deal.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but has been populated by ethnic Armenians. Russia has deployed 1,960 peacekeepers to the region for an initial five-year period. Since the truce, the two sides have accused each other of breaching the peace deal.

Since February 24, when Russia started a special military operation in Ukraine, the European Union has been functioning as the key mediator between the two sides.

Azeri President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met in Brussels in April and May. 

The two countries’ top diplomats also held their first talks in July 2022. The negotiation was held in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi.

Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Jeyhun Bayramov, "discussed a wide range of issues related to normalizing relations between the two countries," the Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

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