Armenia and Azerbaijan have reported further bloodshed in Nagorno-Karabakh as the worst spate of fighting since the 1990s raged for a third day in the region, and as heavy weaponry was moved to the front lines.
Dozens have been reported killed and hundreds wounded since clashes between Azerbaijan and its ethnic Armenian mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh broke out on Sunday, in a new eruption of a decades-old conflict.
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said 10 civilians had been killed by Armenian shelling since Sunday. There was no official information about casualties among Azeri servicemen.
Armenia’s defence ministry said an Armenian civilian bus in Vardenis – an Armenian border town far from Nagorno-Karabakh – caught fire after being hit by an Azeri drone, but no one appeared to be hurt. It said it was making further checks.
“Both sides are making the claim that the other is using high-grade sophisticated weaponry,” Al Jazeera’s Robin Forestier-Walker reported from Georgia.
“International monitors are saying this is the worst fighting since 1994, which is an indication of the modern weaponry that is being deployed.
Renewed violence has reignited concern over stability in the South Caucasus region, a corridor for pipelines carrying oil and gas to world markets.
Separately, the UN Security Council is expected to hold emergency talks behind closed doors later on Tuesday, at 21:00 GMT, after France and Germany led a push for the issue to be placed on the agenda.
Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence is not recognised by any country, and it is considered part of Azerbaijan by the international community.
France, Russia and the United States have mediated peace efforts under the umbrella of the Minsk Group, but the last big push for a peace deal collapsed in 2010.
“We haven’t seen anything like this since the ceasefire to the war in the 1990s. The fighting is taking place along all sections of the front line,” Olesya Vartanyan, senior analyst for the South Caucasus region at the International Crisis Group, told Reuters.
Vartanyan said the use of rockets and artillery brought a higher risk of civilian casualties, which could make the escalation hard to stop by diplomatic means.
Russia has called for an immediate ceasefire while Turkey said it would continue to support Azerbaijan.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has demanded that Armenia immediately quit Azerbaijani lands he said it was occupying, adding it was time to end the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis.
Credit: Source link