Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: Ceasefire takes effect; Armenia-Azerbaijan accuse each other of new attacks

By: Express Web Desk | Panaji |

Updated: October 10, 2020 4:42:05 pm

With the U.S. Capitol in the background, Levon Alyanakian, 14, of Los Angeles, center, and other Armenian-Americans protest Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. The latest outburst of fighting between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces began Sept. 27 and marked the biggest escalation of the decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. On Thursday, a historic cathedral in the town of Shusha in Nagorno-Karabakh came under shelling, a shell piercing its dome and damaging the interior. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

A ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan has come into effect, halting nearly two weeks of bitter clashes over the long-disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. After around 10 hours of negotiations, moderated by Moscow, the two warring nations agreed on a peace deal to allow prisoners and the bodies of the dead to be exchanged, Reuters reported.

According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the countries will soon begin “substantive” talks on the settlement of the conflict.

While the ceasefire is expected to begin midday local time, it is not yet clear how long it will remain in place, Reuters reported.

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“Concrete parameters of the ceasefire will be agreed separately,” Lavrov said, reading from a statement. “Azerbaijan and Armenia begin substantive negotiations with the purpose of achieving a peaceful settlement as soon as possible.”

However, less than an hour into the truce, Armenian and Azerbaijani forces accused each other of bombing civilian areas, AFP reported.

On September 27, fighting broke out between the two countries around the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh and the Armenian Defense Ministry said two Azerbaijani helicopters were shot down. More than 300 people have lost their lives since the clashes first erupted.

Here are the top updates on the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict

Armenia, Azerbaijan accuse each other of new attacks despite ceasefire

Armenias and Azerbaijan forces accused each other of firing missiles and rockets on civil areas on Saturday despite a ceasefire agreement that came into effect at noon, AFP reported.

“In disregard of the previously declared humanitarian ceasefire, Azerbaijani forces at 12:05 launched an attack towards Karakhanbeyli,”Armenian defence ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan said. “The Karabakh army is taking measures to repel the attack.”

Around half an hour after the ceasefire was due to take effect, Azerbaijan’s defence ministry reported shelling in the districts of Terter and Agdam.

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Missiles, intense shelling reported by both countries ahead of truce

The Nagorno-Karabakh region’s ombudsman Artak Beglaryan claimed that Azerbaijan had fired missiles on civilian areas of its main city Stepanakert hours before the ceasefire was set to take effect, AFP reported.

“Baku uses the same style of #WarCrimes by the very last moment,” he tweeted, adding that casualties were yet to be reported.

Soon after the two warring nations agreed to a ceasefire, an AFP journalist in Stepanakert reported hearing two explosions early on Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan’s defence ministry has accused Armenia of shelling several civilian areas. “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.

Canada says Turkey, others should stay out of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Canada urged Turkey and other nations to stay out of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, according to Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne. The top Canadian official pushed his Turkish counterpart to help de-escalate tensions in the area by encouraging close ally Azerbaijan to take part in peace talks, Reuters reported.

“My message was very clear, that Turkey and all external parties should stay out of the conflict … we had a firm discussion where I was firm with him as to where Canada stands,” Champagne told reporters on Sunday.

He added that both he and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu agreed that there was no military solution to the conflict.

Earlier, while the US, France and Russia jointly condemned the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh and called for a ceasefire, Turkey — an ally of Azerbaijan — dismissed these demands.

Armenia smuggling in arms under guise of humanitarian aid, Azerbaijan claims

Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a press statement on Sunday alleging that weapons are being transported into Armenia by civil aircrafts under the guise of humanitarian aid, Al Jazeera reported.

Azerbaijan also accused the Armenian Ministry of Emergency Situations of smuggling weapons into the country. “In particular, missile systems and other weapons are transported,” the statement read.

The country’s foreign ministry appealed to the International Civil Aviation Organization to investigate the matter.

Azerbaijan ‘liberates’ towns, several villages ahead of ceasefire

A day before the two warring nations agreed to a ceasefire, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev announced that the country’s army had “liberated” several settlements from Armenian occupation, Al Jazeera reported.

Aliyev claimed that the settlement of Hadrut north of Ceyrayil city, as well as several villages including Chayli, Yukhari Guzlak, Gorazilli, Gishlag, Garajalli, Afandilar, Suleymanli and Sur had rejoined with the rest of Azerbaijan in what he called a “historic victory”.

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