December 14, 2020, 11:32:24 am
Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other on Sunday of violating the terms of a ceasefire in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The Azerbaijani government said four of its troops were killed in Nagorno-Karabakh after a group of Armenian fighters raided their forces on November 26.
The deaths are the first to be reported during the ceasefire of the conflict, which lasted more than a month.
For its part, Armenia said six separatists were injured in clashes with Azerbaijani troops after skirmishes broke out on Friday evening.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict broke out in September with clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia-backed separatists over the mountainous region.
The fighting is said to have ceased on November 10, thanks to a Russia-brokered peace agreement in which the Armenians had to cede parts of their territory.
More than 5,000 people, including civilians, were killed in fighting between former Soviet rivals who had previously gone to war over the mountainous area in the 1990s.
For at least five years, Russia has sent almost 2,000 peacekeepers to the crisis region to monitor the peace agreement and facilitate the return of refugees.
Moscow confirms ceasefire violation
In response to Armenian allegations, the Baku government said the weekend clashes took place in an area under their control while its armed forces were conducting a military operation against enemy forces responsible for the deadly attacks on Azerbaijani soldiers.
But Armenia said its armed forces are simply repelling attempted intruders by the Azerbaijani armed forces into areas that should remain under the control of the rebel province’s government.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry said Russian forces were not present in the area where the clashes broke out.
Azerbaijan’s State Security Service returned, saying that “unsubstantiated allegations by some Armenian leaders and media against the Azerbaijani side and Russian peacekeeping forces” were unacceptable.
The Russian Defense Ministry reported that the ceasefire had been violated for the first time, but remained silent about the blame.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev warned that Armenia “should not try to start everything over”. “It has to be very careful and not plan military action. This time we will destroy them completely. It can’t be a secret to anyone, ”said Aliyev.
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