The dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan has been simmering for years, and in the past two weeks the states have fought heavy fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. There is actually a ceasefire now – but the attacks continue.
Despite a new ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the crisis region Nagorno-Karabakh, both parties to the conflict are accusing each other of attacks. The Armenian army spokeswoman Shushan Stepanjan spoke of Azerbaijani attacks on Saturday shortly after the ceasefire began. The neighboring country ignored the agreement, to which the armed forces of Nagorno-Karabakh would have to react with “appropriate measures”.
Azerbaijan accused Armenia of starting artillery fire on numerous locations. All attacks have been averted. Shortly before the ceasefire began, the capital, Stepanakert, was again the target of rocket attacks. Azerbaijan hit civilian areas with rockets, wrote a representative of the self-appointed government in Nagorno-Karabakh on Twitter on Saturday.
Two explosions shook the city that morning, a reporter for the AFP news agency reported. In turn, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry reported attacks on inhabited areas by the Armenian side. “The Armenian armed forces are bombing intensely populated areas,” the ministry said. Azerbaijan then took action.
The fighting has been raging since the end of September
After a long period of relative calm, the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh and neighboring areas flared up again at the end of September. Since then there have been fierce fighting every day, and the fighting continued on Friday regardless of the talks.
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev called the meeting in Moscow the “last chance” for a peaceful solution. However, the conflict should first be ended militarily. Only later could one talk about a permanent political solution. Armenia must give up Nagorno Karabakh.
Hundreds of soldiers have died in the past few weeks
Hundreds of people have been killed on both sides since fighting between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces broke out in late September. On the Armenian side alone, more than 400 soldiers are said to have died in Nagorno-Karabakh. The fighting is the worst escalation in the decades-old conflict since the 1994 ceasefire agreement.
Smoke rises after the shelling by the Azerbaijani artillery: 320 soldiers died in Armenia, there is no information from Azerbaijan. (Archive picture) (Source: Uncredited / AP / dpa)
Azerbaijan lost control of the area in a war that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union some 30 years ago. Nagorno-Karabakh is now inhabited by Christian Karabakh-Armenians. The leadership in Baku accuses neighboring Armenia of occupying Azerbaijani territory in violation of international law. A fragile ceasefire has existed since 1994.
Turkey is also involved
Azerbaijan is getting support from Turkey in the conflict. Foreign mercenaries and fighters from jihadist groups from the war zones in Syria and Libya are also said to be involved in the fighting. So far there is no clear evidence.
Russia has diplomatic and economic ties to both ex-Soviet republics. However, those with Armenia are more intense. Russia also has a military base there.