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Armenia, Azerbaijan announce new attempt at cease-fire

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 10/18/2020 AIDA SULTANOVA

Armenia and Azerbaijan on Saturday announced a new attempt to establish a cease-fire in their conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh starting from midnight, a move that comes a week after a Russia-brokered truce frayed immediately after it took force.

The new agreement was announced following Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s calls with his counterparts from the two nations, in which he strongly urged them to abide by the Moscow deal.

Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a war there ended in 1994. The latest fighting that began on Sept. 27 has involved heavy artillery, rockets and drones, killing hundreds in the largest escalation of hostilities between the South Caucasus neighbors in more than a quarter-century.

Russia, which has a security pact with Armenia but has cultivated warm ties with Azerbaijan, hosted top diplomats from both countries for more than 10 hours of talks that ended with the initial cease-fire agreement. But the deal frayed immediately after the truce took effect last Saturday, with both sides blaming each other for breaching it.

The full-scale fighting continued to rage through the week.

a group of people looking at each other: Relatives of bombing victms mourn after their were killed when a rocket hit their home during their funeral in the city of Ganja, Azerbaijan. © BULENT KILIC Relatives of bombing victms mourn after their were killed when a rocket hit their home during their funeral in the city of Ganja, Azerbaijan.

Relatives of bombing victms mourn after their were killed when a rocket hit their home during their funeral in the city of Ganja, Azerbaijan. (BULENT KILIC/)

In a new escalation, Azerbaijan on Saturday accused Armenia of striking its second-largest city with a ballistic missile that killed at least 13 civilians and wounded 50 others.

The Armenian Defense Ministry denied launching the strike, but the separatist authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh put out a statement listing alleged “legitimate” military facilities in the city of Ganja, although they stopped short of claiming responsibility for the attack.

Azerbaijani officials said the Soviet-made Scud missile destroyed or damaged about 20 residential buildings in Ganja overnight, and emergency workers spent hours searching in the rubble for victims and survivors.

Scud missiles date back to the 1960s and carry a big load of explosives but are known for their lack of precision.


Gallery: Images of war: 2-weeks of brutal fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan left hundreds dead before ceasefire declared (Business Insider)

In a televised address to the nation, Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, denounced the missile strike as a war crime and warned the leadership of Armenia that it would face responsibility.

“Azerbaijan will give its response and it will do so exclusively on the battlefield,” Aliyev said.

A neighbour comforts home owner, Lida Sarksyan, left, near her house destroyed by shelling from Azerbaijan's artillery during a military conflict in Stepanakert, the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh Saturday. © Provided by New York Daily News A neighbour comforts home owner, Lida Sarksyan, left, near her house destroyed by shelling from Azerbaijan's artillery during a military conflict in Stepanakert, the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh Saturday.

A neighbour comforts home owner, Lida Sarksyan, left, near her house destroyed by shelling from Azerbaijan's artillery during a military conflict in Stepanakert, the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh Saturday.

While authorities in Azerbaijan and Armenia have denied targeting civilians, residential areas have increasingly come under shelling amid the hostilities.

Stepanakert, the regional capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, came under intense shelling overnight, leaving three civilians wounded, according to separatist authorities.

Aliyev announced that Azerbaijani forces have taken the town of Fizuli and seven villages around it, gaining a “strategic edge.” Fizuli is one of the seven Azerbaijani regions outside Nagorno-Karabakh that was seized by the Armenian forces during the war in the early 1990s.

Azerbaijani authorities said 60 civilians have been killed and 270 have been wounded since Sept. 27, but they haven’t revealed military losses. Separatist authorities said over 600 Nagorno-Karabakh soldiers and 36 civilians have been killed.

a group of people standing next to a pile of sand: Soldiers and firefighters search for survivors in a residential area that was hit by rocket fire overnight by Armenian forces, early Saturday in Gyanga, Azerbaijan's second largest city, near the border with Armenia. © Provided by New York Daily News Soldiers and firefighters search for survivors in a residential area that was hit by rocket fire overnight by Armenian forces, early Saturday in Gyanga, Azerbaijan's second largest city, near the border with Armenia.

Soldiers and firefighters search for survivors in a residential area that was hit by rocket fire overnight by Armenian forces, early Saturday in Gyanga, Azerbaijan's second largest city, near the border with Armenia. (Aziz Karimov/)

Azerbaijan has insisted it has the right to reclaim its land by force after efforts by the so-called Minsk group of international mediators that comprises Russia, the United States and France failed to yield any progress after nearly three decades. Azerbaijan has actively pushed for its ally Turkey to take a prominent role in future peace talks.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar spoke on the phone with his Azerbaijani counterpart, congratulating Azerbaijan on “liberating Fizuli from the occupation” and downing Armenian jets.

The Azerbaijani military declared Saturday that they downed an Armenian Su-25 jet, a claim quickly dismissed by Armenia’s Defense Ministry.

The Armenian military said they downed three Azerbaijani drones over the territory of Armenia on Saturday. Azerbaijan denied that.

Drones and rocket systems supplied by Turkey have given the Azerbaijani military an edge on the battlefield, helping them outgun the Armenian forces that rely mostly on outdated Soviet-era weapons.

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