Fighting intensifies in the Karabakh region between Azerbaijan and Armenia (video)

Fighting intensifies in the Karabakh region between Azerbaijan and Armenia (video)
Fighting intensifies in the Karabakh region between Azerbaijan and Armenia (video)

Fighting raged in the separatist Nagorno Karabakh region in Azerbaijan, while no breakthrough appeared today, Saturday, as Azerbaijan blamed Armenia for igniting the decades-old conflict.

The Nagorno-Karabakh region, an enclave inhabited and managed by Armenians inside Azerbaijan, said that Baku forces fired missiles again towards the main city of Khankendi in the region after a week of exchanging artillery and missile strikes on both sides.

Today, Saturday, Nagorno Karabakh announced the death of 51 other soldiers in the fighting with Azerbaijan, in a sharp rise in the death toll.

Earlier, Aryk Harutyunyan, leader of Nagorno Karabakh, said he had joined his forces at the front.

The current fighting is the fiercest since the 1990s and reinforces fears of a wider regional war that may drag Russia and Turkey into, amid severe concerns for stability in the South Caucasus, the region that transports oil and gas from Azerbaijan to global markets.

“Fierce battles continue along the front,” the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said on the seventh day of clashes with Armenian forces.

On Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Nicole Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia, which supports Nagorno Karabakh. Macron later said in a statement that he had proposed a new way to return to the talks.

“The President of Azerbaijan has placed full responsibility on the leadership of Armenia regarding the breakdown of negotiations and the start of the armed confrontation,” said Aliyev’s press office.

Armenia says it was Azerbaijan that fueled the conflict with a massive offensive on September 27.

On Friday, Armenia said it was ready to communicate with Russia, the United States and France in order to return to the ceasefire in Nagorno Karabakh.

The three countries co-chair the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which plays a mediating role in the conflict.

But Aliyev told Al Jazeera in an interview on Friday that over the past three decades, the Minsk group had failed to achieve progress in this conflict.

He added that his country does not ignore calls for a ceasefire, but that cannot be achieved before the withdrawal of Armenian forces from the lands of Azerbaijan, referring to Nagorno Karabakh and the seven surrounding areas under its control since the 1990s.

“The conditions must be their withdrawal from the lands. We need to regain our lands by peaceful means, and for 28 years we have made clear our readiness to reach a peaceful settlement,” Aliyev said.

And there were reports of about two hundred people killed in the past week, and the toll may be much higher, given that Azerbaijan did not disclose the number of deaths among its ranks.

Violence erupted for the first time in the Nagorno-Karabakh region in 1988, when Armenia and Azerbaijan were within the former Soviet Union, and nearly 30,000 people were killed in the conflict before a ceasefire in 1994.

The International Committee of the Red Cross expressed concern about the deaths and injuries in the fighting, including children.

“Individuals contacted the International Committee of the Red Cross, feeling fear for themselves and their families, and did not know where to go to stay safe,” she said.

The committee added that it is concerned about the possibility of an increase in cases of Covid-19 among those who hide for hours in shelters or crowd together in inadequate sanitary conditions.

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