Category Archives: Azerbaijan-Armenia War

Nagorno-karabakh War: Armenia on final route out of Karabakh

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Fresh clashes over Karabakh erupted in late September and ended after Azerbaijani forces had reclaimed large areas from Armenian control.

Dressed in impeccable camouflage fatigues with Kalashnikovs slung over their shoulders, Russian peacekeepers stand guard along the last road linking Armenia with the restive region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

After meticulously writing down a car’s registration number in a large notebook, a soldier stands aside to let the driver pass and wishes him a good journey.

“When the peacekeepers arrived, the situation became calmer than during the war. It’s reassuring,” says Erik Tovmasyan, who is driving from Karabakh’s main city Stepanakert to the Armenian capital Yerevan for eye surgery.

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For Armenians still reeling from defeat in recent fighting with Azerbaijan, the peacekeepers who deployed under a Moscow-brokered peace deal are a welcome presence.

But with the region surrounding the road set to be handed back to Azerbaijan next week, many here are facing an uncertain future.

Russia has sent 2,000 peacekeepers to the region under the deal that ended six weeks of heavy fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian enclave that broke away from Azerbaijan’s control in a war in the 1990s.

The peacekeepers have deployed between the two sides including along a 60-kilometre (35-mile) stretch connecting Stepanakert with the Armenian border in the south.

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Strategic road
The strategic road runs through the Lachin district, the third and last territory near Nagorno-Karabakh that Armenia will cede to Azerbaijan on December 1 under the peace deal.

Two other districts — neighbouring Kalbajar and Aghdam to the northeast — were returned to Azerbaijan earlier this month.

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In its northern part, the Lachin corridor diverges towards Shusha, a strategic and historic town overlooking Stepanakert that was captured by Azerbaijan in a pivotal moment of the war.

The small road leading to Shusha is blocked by soldiers from Baku, who are positioned close to the Russians.

AFP journalists passing nearby could hear Azerbaijani songs and music broadcast over loudspeakers from their position.

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“They do it from time to time,” says one of Moscow’s soldiers.

November 10 after Azerbaijan’s military overwhelmed Armenian separatist forces and threatened to advance on Karabakh’s main city Stepanakert. (Photo by Karen MINASYAN / AFP)

At another checkpoint on a road leading into the town, an Azerbaijani special forces captain tells AFP that the situation inside is calm.

“There are only soldiers in Shusha,” says the officer, who will not give his name. “Civilians (Azerbaijanis) come from time to time only to repair infrastructure” damaged in the fighting.

When Armenian separatists gained control of these districts three decades ago, local Azerbaijanis fled the territories and Armenians moved in.

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Now, it is the Armenians who are deciding whether to abandon their homes, fearing what will happen when Azerbaijanis return.

‘Nowhere to go’
In the town of Lachin, at the heart of the five-kilometre-wide (three-mile-wide) corridor, the manager of a grocery store is wondering what to do.

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“We have no information about whether we should leave,” says the man who does not wish to give his name, adding that he hopes to keep his store.

In front of his shop, 81-year-old Margarita Khanagyan leans on her cane as she stands next to an armoured vehicle belonging to the Russian peacekeepers.

“I left during the war, then we were told to come back and I came back. Now we have to leave again, but to where?”

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Uncertainty also looms over the village of Aghavno, the last residential area before the border with Armenia where several dozen houses were built 10 years ago, just below the road.

Men here are always carrying rifles, prepared to defend themselves at any moment.

“They can’t scare us,” says village head Andranik Chavushyan, 39. “We will still be living here.”

Standing next to him, Narine Rasoyan begins to cry.

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Pregnant with her sixth child, Rasoyan lost her husband in the recent fighting.

“I have nowhere to go with my five children, where would I stay?” she says through her tears. “Let them give me a house and I will leave.”

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#Newsworthy

Nagorno-karabakh war: Armenian PM calls for retreat.

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Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan nearly 30 years ago but it has not been recognised internationally, even by Armenia.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who has fuelled outrage over a controversial peace deal with Azerbaijan, called Monday for a halt to violence after reports of an attempt on his life.

Last week, Pashinyan announced a Moscow-brokered peace deal that ended weeks of heavy fighting over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh that left at least 2,400 dead and displaced tens of thousands.

Armenia agreed to cede parts of the region to Azerbaijan as well as other territories controlled by Armenian separatists since a 1990s post-Soviet war.

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After the deal was announced, thousands of protesters took to the streets of the Armenian capital Yerevan, calling Pashinyan a “traitor” and demanding his resignation. Protesters also stormed government buildings.

On Monday, Pashinyan appealed for calm.

“Today I clearly stated that violence or the provoking of violence (especially armed violence) cannot in any way be a means of action for the government,” Pashinyan said on Facebook.

Pashinyan said he expected the opposition to also declare that it did not back “any violent action”.

Authorities on Saturday said they thwarted a plot to assassinate the prime minister and arrested opposition leader Artur Vanetsyan, the former head of Armenia’s security services.

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Vanetsyan, leader of the centre-right “Homeland” party, was released on Sunday after a court ruled that his detention lacked legal grounds.

A dozen opposition leaders were detained last week for inciting riots but were also released by courts.

Clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenian separatists broke out in late September and persisted despite efforts by France, Russia and the United States to mediate ceasefires that collapsed as both sides accused the other of violations.


#Newsworthy…

Nagorno-karabakh: We shall fight ‘to the end!’ – Azerbaijan vows.

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Nagorno-Karabakh officials accused Azerbaijan of targeting the town of Martuni with military aviation and several other areas with missile raids overnight. Azerbaijani forces continued shelling the region’s civilian settlements in the morning, they said.

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has said his country’s forces will “go to the end” should negotiations fail to result in an agreement by ethnic Armenian forces to withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions.

Aliyev, speaking during a meeting on Sunday with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, also said Armenia had “no basis” to request Russian military assistance in the conflict.

The conflict has brought into sharp focus the increased influence of Turkey, an ally of Azerbaijan, in a former Soviet region considered by Russia to be within its sphere of influence. Russia also has a security alliance with Armenia.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has asked Moscow to outline the extent of the support it could expect from Moscow.

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In response, Russia’s foreign ministry said on Saturday it would provide “all assistance required” should the conflict spill onto “the territory of Armenia” – land that is outside the current conflict zone.

Aliyev, quoted by state news agency Azertac, said he wanted to resolve the conflict through negotiations that would result in the withdrawal of ethnic Armenian forces.

“Otherwise,” he said, “we will continue by any means to restore our territorial integrity and … we will go to the end.”

His comments came as fighting over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh entered its sixth week on Sunday, with both sides blaming each other for new attacks.

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Azerbaijan’s defence ministry, in turn, rejected the allegation of targeting civilian areas and accused Armenian forces of firing at the positions of the Azerbaijani army on the Armenia-Azerbaijan state border. The ministry also said Armenian forces were shelling settlements in the regions of Terter and Aghjabedi.

Outside influence
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 outburst of hostilities began on September 27 and has left hundreds – if not thousands – dead, marking the worst escalation of the decades-old conflict between the two ex-Soviet nations in more than 25 years.

According to Nagorno-Karabakh officials, 1,166 of their troops and 45 civilians have been killed. Azerbaijani authorities have not disclosed their military losses, but say the fighting has killed at least 91 civilians and wounded 400. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said, according to Moscow’s information, the actual death toll was significantly higher and nearing 5,000.

Azerbaijan’s advances on the battlefield since fighting began on September 27 have reduced its incentive to strike a lasting peace deal and complicated international efforts to broker a truce [File: Azerbaijani presidency via AFP]

Azerbaijan’s advances on the battlefield since the fighting began have reduced its incentive to strike a lasting peace deal and complicated international efforts to broker a truce. Three ceasefires have failed to hold.

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In the most recent attempt to defuse tensions, the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan met on Friday in Geneva for a day of talks brokered by Russia, the United States and France, co-chairs of the so-called Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that tries to mediate the conflict.

The talks concluded with the two sides agreeing they “will not deliberately target civilian populations or non-military objects in accordance with international humanitarian law,” but the agreement was quickly challenged by reports of shelling of civilian settlements.

Azerbaijani troops, which have relied on drone strikes and long-range rocket systems supplied by Turkey, have reclaimed control of several regions on the fringes of Nagorno-Karabakh and pressed their offensive from the south.

On Thursday, Nagorno-Karabakh’s leader said Azerbaijani troops had advanced to within 5km (3 miles) of the strategically located town of Shushi just south of the main town Stepanakert, which sits on the main road linking Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia.


#Newsworthy…

Nagorno-Karabakh: Second truce fails; fight continues.

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Clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan spill into fourth week, with dozens of civilians and hundreds of soldiers killed.

Azerbaijan and Armenia engaged in heavy fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region on Monday, with both countries ignoring a renewed truce that was meant to come into effect at the weekend.

The truce was agreed on Saturday after a similar deal brokered by Russia a week earlier failed to halt the worst fighting in the South Caucasus since the 1990s.


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In both instances, Armenia and Azerbaijan accused one another of breaking the truce within hours of agreed deadlines.

On Monday, ethnic Armenian officials in Nagorno-Karabakh said Azeri forces were shelling their positions in northern and southern areas of the line of contact that divides them.

They recorded another 19 casualties among their troops, pushing the military death toll to 729 since fighting with Azeri forces erupted on September 27; 36 ethnic Armenian civilians have died.

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Azerbaijan does not disclose its military casualties, but on Saturday claimed 60 Azeri civilians had so far died.

People mourn by the coffin of Armenian soldier Samvel Hovakimyan, 23, who was killed in the fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, during a funeral ceremony at a cemetery in the town of Gyumri on October 19, 2020 [Karen Minasyan/AFP]

The Azeri defence ministry said Armenian forces had shelled its positions in the Garanboy, Terter and Aghdam regions of Azerbaijan overnight and said the Agjebedin region was being shelled on Monday morning.

The reports could not immediately be verified.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev accused Armenian forces of violating the truce, and said in a Twitter post there were “dead and wounded due to these heinous actions”.

More than 1,000 people have been killed since fighting began on September 27, including hundreds of soldiers and dozens of civilians.

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Nagorno-Karabakh is inside Azerbaijan but has been controlled by Armenia-backed troops for more than 25 years.

The failure to halt renewed fighting has raised fears of all-out war and humanitarian crisis, while the conflict puts fresh strain on ties between Turkey, which strongly backs Azerbaijan, and its Western allies in NATO.

While Turkey has called for a ceasefire, countries such as France and Germany have criticised Ankara for its fervent and vocal support of Baku in the fight.

Russia, which has a defence pact with Armenia and sells weapons to both rival countries, could also be at risk of being embroiled into a regional war.

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The first truce brokered in Moscow earlier this month was aimed at letting the sides swap detainees and bodies of those killed in the clashes, but it had little effect on the fighting around the enclave.

The latest truce was announced after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov talked to his Armenian and Azeri counterparts by telephone and called on sides to observe the truce that he mediated a week ago.

Russia, France and the United States jointly chair a body called the Minsk Group, which has attempted to help resolve the conflict under the umbrella of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

UN chief Antonio Guterres on Sunday called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to “fully abide” by the new truce, his spokesman said.


#Newsworthy…

Nagorno-Karabakh war: France, Russia & US set to meet. [More Stories]

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As international mediators head to Geneva, Armenia and Azerbaijan report further casualties.

  • France, US, Russia to hold talks in Geneva
  • Turkey says the Minsk Group should not be involved in mediating the conflict
  • Azerbaijan says city of Ganja shelled by Armenian forces, killing one civilian
  • Baku claims 30 Azeri civilians killed to date, but does not release military casualties
  • Nagorno-Karabakh says death toll among military rises to 350

France, the United States and Russia will step up efforts to end fighting between Azeri and ethnic Armenian forces in the South Caucasus by holding talks in Geneva, as fears of a regional war grow.

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French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian said Russian, French and US representatives would also meet in Moscow on Monday to look at ways to persuade the warring sides to negotiate a ceasefire.

The three countries are co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group that mediates over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Turkey has accused the group of neglecting the conflict and said it should not be involved in mediation.

Le Drian hit back at Turkey, reiterating accusations – denied by Ankara – that it is involved militarily and saying this fuelled the “internationalisation” of the conflict.

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• HISTORIC ARMENIA CATHEDRAL DESTROYED IN KARABAKH •

Armenia said that Azerbaijani forces had shelled a historic cathedral in Nagorno-Karabakh’s city of Shusha, where AFP journalists saw the church had suffered serious damage.

There was a gaping hole in the roof of the Ghazanchetsots (Holy Saviour) Cathedral, an iconic site for the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Rubble was strewn about the floor, pews were knocked over and the interior was covered in dust from parts of the building’s limestone walls that had been hit. A section of its metallic roof had collapsed and fallen to the ground outside.

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• ARMENIA DISMISSES HEAD NSS •

Armenia on Thursday dismissed Argishti Kyaramyan, the head its National Security Service, the Interfax news agency reported citing a presidential decree.

• TURKEY FOREIGN MINSTER COMMENTS •

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the “status quo has to be changed” regarding the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia adding that Turkey respects the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

Turkey has publicly backed Azerbaijan in the conflict and said it was ready to provide military assistance, should Azerbaijan request it.

Speaking at the annual Globsec forum in Bratislava, Cavusoglu also added that he was against any conflict in the Black Sea region, adding that Turkey is not flirting with Russia and supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine.


#Newsworthy…

Nagorno-Karabakh war: Different Stories.

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Follow Noble Reporters Media‘s live updates on the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the breakaway region.

• THIS COULD TURN REGIONAL WAR – IRAN WARNS •

  • Iran warns conflict could flare up into regional war
  • Further casualties among Armenia-backed troops reported
  • Claims of mass displacement amid ongoing clashes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned of the danger of the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict turning into a regional war.

“We must be attentive that the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan does not become a regional war. Peace is the basis of our work and we hope to restore stability to the region in a peaceful way,” Rouhani said in televised remarks.

• STOP FIGHTING! – PUTIN CALLS •

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for fighting to stop in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, saying the deadliest fighting in more than 25 years between ethnic Armenian and Azeri forces was a tragedy.

Speaking in a interview with state television, Putin said he was in constant contact with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan about the conflict.

• HALF OF KARABAKH POPULATION DISPLACED•

Half of Nagorno-Karabakh’s population have been displaced since fierce fighting erupted more than a week ago between Armenian troops and Azerbaijan, ethnic Armenian officials in the breakaway region said.

“According to our preliminary estimates, some 50 percent of Karabakh’s population and 90 percent of women and children – or some 70,000-75,000 people – have been displaced,” Karabakh’s rights ombudsman Artak Beglaryan told AFP news agency.

• DEATH TOLL JUMPS TO 280 •

The defence ministry of the Nagorno-Karabakh region said it had recorded another 40 casualties among its Armenia-backed troops, pushing the military death toll to 280 since fighting with Azeri forces erupted, the Interfax news agency reported.

QUICK RECAP –

Fighting in Nagorno Karabakh has continued for a second week as Armenia and Azerbaijan clash over the breakaway region.

Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said his country could make concessions over the region if Azerbaijan would do the same.

So far, the two rivals are ignoring international appeals for a ceasefire and have accused one another of causing civilian and military casualties since clashing on September 27.

Violence periodically flares up in the breakaway region, which is inside Azerbaijan but controlled by ethnic Armenians, but the latest fighting has raised fears of an all-out war erupting.


#Newsworthy…

Nagorno-Karabakh: Civilian loses to death in Ganja rocket attack – Azerbaijan says.

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Armenia denied the attack but leader of Nagorno-Karabakh said it targeted Ganja on Sunday.

Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry says one civilian has been killed and four wounded in an Armenian rocket attack on the Azerbaijani city of Ganja on Sunday.

Armenia denied attacking its neighbour. The leader of Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region in Azerbaijan controlled by ethnic Armenians, said it had targeted Ganja, a city of more than 330,000 in the western part of the country.


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In statements posted on its website earlier, Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said Ganja and several other civilian areas were being attacked using rockets and shelling.

“Azerbaijan will destroy military targets directly inside Armenia from which shelling of its population centres is taking place,” presidential aide Hikmet Hajiyev said adding that there were civilian casualties in Beylagan, which borders Nagorno-Karabakh.

Reporting from Ganja, NRM said: “People here are telling us that approximately an hour after a rocket landed, a second hit another residential area a few blocks away, wounding two people.”

Earlier, Armenian officials said Azerbaijan’s forces had shelled Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh’s main city, where the sound of sirens was heard at approximately 9:30am (05:30 GMT), followed by several explosions, according to AFP news agency.

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“Azerbaijani forces are shelling civilian targets in Stepanakert with rockets,” Armenian defence ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan told AFP.

Emergencies personnel work in a damaged area of Ganja following a rocket strike [Handout/Azerbaijani presidency/AFP]

Azerbaijani authorities said they had taken “retaliatory measures” after rocket fire from Stepanakert.

Reporting from Stepanakert, Noble Reporters Media said the city has been under intense bombardment since the morning.

“There has been considerable damage on the buildings in the city centre,” he said. “People were unable to go out. They are hiding in the bomb shelters. Civilians are on the receiving end of this bombardment.”

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Separately, the defence ministry in Baku said Armenian armed forces were firing rockets at the towns of Terter and Horadiz in the Fizuli region.

‘Final battle’
Nagorno-Karabakh is controlled by ethnic Armenians backed by Armenia and has been the subject of several United Nations resolutions calling for an end to the occupation of Azeri lands.

The leader of the breakaway province, Arayik Harutyunyan, said he was heading to the front and that the “final battle” for the region had begun, while Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said his nation was facing a historic threat.

“We are facing possibly the most decisive moment in our millennia-old history,” Pashinyan said in an address to the nation on Saturday. “We all must dedicate ourselves to a singular goal: Victory.”

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Azerbaijan and Armenia previously fought a war over Nagorno-Karabakh in the late 1980s and early 1990s as they transitioned into independent countries amid the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The war, which ended with a fragile peace treaty in 1994, is estimated to have killed tens of thousands of people, including more than a thousand civilians.

Armenia says it was Azerbaijan that restarted the conflict by launching a major offensive on September 27, while Baku says it was forced to respond to provocations by the other side.

The fighting continued despite international calls for the neighbours to halt clashes and begin talks as fears grow that the fighting could expand into a multi-front war sucking in regional powers Turkey and Russia.


#Newsworthy ..