Azerbaijan, Armenia fight over disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory
Clashes flared across the delicate frontline between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces Sunday, even after Azerbaijan attempted to declare a cease-fire in hopes of halting an outbreak of violence that has killed more than 30 soldiers and wounded scores of others since Saturday.
The worst outbreak in fighting in more than 20 years over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory, which sits between the two former Soviet republics, has sent nerves on edge from Europe to Washington, where concerns are high that Russian and Turkish meddling in the region may have sparked the new wave of hostilities.
The separatist Nagorno-Karabakh territory of Azerbaijan has been under the control of Armenia’s military and local ethnic Armenians since the Azerbaijani and Armenian militaries waged a war over the territory that claimed some 30,000 lives following the breakup of the Soviet Union.
The war has been frozen since 1994, when both sides agreed to a cease-fire. However, a series of small clashes has caused tensions to rise during recent years, with the situation hitting a boiling point on Saturday.
Fierce clashes left at least 18 Armenian and 12 Azerbaijani soldiers dead after the two sides accused each other of attacking with heavy weaponry across the volatile frontline. Authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh said one boy was killed in the fighting, while Azerbaijan said one of its helicopters had been shot down and that two Azerbaijani civilians had died, with 10 others wounded.
After claiming that its forces had taken control of several strategic areas inside Armenian-controlled territory, Azerbaijani officials appeared to be bowing to international calls for calm by declaring a unilateral cease-fire on Sunday morning.
But clashes continued to rumble across the frontline through Sunday afternoon, with both sides blaming each other for attacks. A spokesman for Azerbaijan’s defense ministry told Agence France-Presse that “the Armenians have continued shelling throughout the day, without interruption.”
An Armenian defense ministry spokesman countered that “fighting with the use of tanks and artillery continues as Azerbaijan is telling lies that it halted hostilities. Azerbaijan continues shelling both Karabakh army positions and Armenian villages.”
Calls for calm
In Washington, Secretary of State John F. Kerry called on both sides to “show restraint” and enter into immediate talks toward restoring the 1994 cease-fire — an agreement that was originally co-chaired by the U.S., France and Russia via the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Despite the cease-fire, the two sides have never signed a peace deal.
Energy-rich Azerbaijan is backed by Turkey and has often had annual military expenditures in excess of Armenia’s entire state budget. Over the years, Azerbaijani officials have threatened to seize Nagorno-Karabakh back by force if negotiations failed to yield results.
But Russia-backed Armenia has said it could crush any offensive.
The last serious flare-up came in November 2014, when Azerbaijan shot down an Armenian military helicopter.
In a statement on Sunday, Mr. Kerry stressed that “there is no military solution to the conflict” and vowed that U.S. officials are “firmly committed to working with the sides to reach a lasting and negotiated peace.”
Story Continues → http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/201 ... ar/?page=2
This forum covers a whole range of issues: from international politics and economy to human rights, from corporate domination and greed to environmental crises...
First unread post • 1 post • Page 1 of 1
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.