International

Dozens killed, hundreds injured as Armenia, Azerbaijan continue to clash over Nagorno-Karabakh region

Photo: Azerbaijan Defense Ministry.

For the fifth consecutive day on Thursday, the Armenian and Azerbaijani forces clashed over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, thus marking the biggest escalation in years of a decades-old conflict.

Ever since the clash broke out between ethnic Armenian and Azeri forces, dozens of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured. The violence has since spread to areas outside the enclave’s borders, threatening to escalate into war.

As per reports, both the forces have been accusing each other of shelling and killing. Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry accused Armenian forces of shelling the Azerbaijani town of Tartar, while Armenian military officials said Azerbaijani forces bombed northern parts of the breakaway region where the Nagorno-Karabakh army was positioned.

As per reports, the conflict intensified on Tuesday as Armenia claimed a Turkish F-16 fighter jet shot down one of its SU-25 fighter planes in Armenian airspace, killing the pilot. In this regard, according to reports, both Turkey and Armenian have denied the claims.

Speaking on Russian state television on Tuesday, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan both rejected the possibility of talks, despite urgent appeals from Russia and the United States to end the violence.

About this, the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday called for an immediate halt to the hostilities. On the same day, a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke to both Aliyev and Pashinyan and called for “an immediate stop to the fighting, a de-escalation of tension and a return to meaningful negotiations without preconditions or delay.”

On Sunday, the United States called for an end to the fighting. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus issued a statement saying the U.S. “condemns in the strongest terms this escalation of violence.”

She urged both sides to work with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs “to return to substantive negotiations as soon as possible.” The OSCE is the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The OSCE Minsk Group is tasked with finding a peaceful solution to the conflict.

The U.S., France and Russia co-chair the OSCE Minsk Group, which issued a joint statement Sunday concerning the “large scale military actions along the Line of Contact in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.”

“We strongly condemn the use of force and regret the senseless loss of life, including civilians,” the co-chairs said. They appealed “to the sides to cease hostilities immediately and to resume negotiations to find a sustainable resolution of the conflict.”

They called on the parties in conflict to take “necessary measures to stabilize the situation on the ground,” adding that there is no alternative to a peaceful negotiated solution of the conflict.

On Sunday, the Armenia and Azerbaijan declared martial law and troop mobilizations amid fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Nagorno-Karabakh is within Azerbaijan’s borders but is governed by ethnic Armenians and supported by the Armenian government. The enclave seceded from Azerbaijan during the Nagorno-Karabakh War that ended in 1994 but has not been recognized by any country as an independent republic.

Reports suggest that a war between the two former Soviet republics could also involve regional powers Turkey and Russia, which has a defense agreement with Armenia. The Turkish government supports its own ethnic Turkic kin in Azerbaijan.

Meanwhile, two French and two Armenian journalists have been injured in Nagorno-Karabakh. Two Le Monde reporters were wounded on Thursday in the town of Martuni, a report by an international news agency Associated Press said.

Quoting Armenia’s Foreign Ministry, the report said that they later taken to hospital, and accused Azerbaijan of bombarding the Martuni region, in eastern Nagorno-Karabakh.

A cameraman with the Armenia TV channel and a reporter with the Armenian 24News outlet also sustained injuries in the Martuni shelling, the report quoted Armenian officials as saying. However, it was unclear how badly the four journalists were hurt. A Russian journalist with the independent Dozhd TV channel was reported to have safely reached a bomb shelter.

Quoting French President Emmanuel Macron, the report said that he told reporters on arrival at a European Union summit in Brussels that a plane was ready to repatriate the two injured French journalists.

Meanwhile, India’s Ministry of External Affairs in a statement issued today said: “We have seen disturbing reports of a resumption of hostility between Armenia and Azerbaijan. India is concerned over this situation which threatened regional peace & security. We reiterate the need for the sides to seize hostility immediately.”

 

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