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Karabakh Ceasefire Still Not Holding


NAGORNO-KARABAKH -- An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) explodes atop of a mountain outside Stepanakert, October 18, 2020

Hostilities in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone reportedly continued on Monday two days after another humanitarian ceasefire agreement announced by Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Karabakh’s Armenian-backed army said Azerbaijani forces again started shelling in the morning its frontline positions north and south of Karabakh. It said its troops are “taking adequate measures” in response.

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said, for its part, that Armenian forces shelled Azerbaijani districts north and east of Karabakh overnight and in the morning.

The conflicting parties continued to accuse each other of not respecting the ceasefire agreement which was reportedly brokered by French President Emmanuel Macron and was supposed to come into force on Sunday morning.

“Minutes after the announcement of the humanitarian truce, the Azerbaijani armed forces resumed hostilities and on the morning of October 18 launched a large-scale offensive on the southern front,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“In fact, this is the second ceasefire agreement that Azerbaijan does not want or is unable to implement,” it added, referring to a similar deal that was brokered by Russia on October 10.

Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian discussed the situation on the ground in a phone call on Sunday. According to his press office, Mnatsakanian “reaffirmed Armenia’s commitment to strengthening the ceasefire regime.”

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev claimed, meanwhile, that it was the Armenian side that “blatantly violated” the truce agreement early on Sunday. He said at the same time that the Azerbaijani army has made more territorial gains since then.

Karabakh authorities said that the Karabakh town of Martuni and several villages came under Azerbaijani rocket fire on the night from Sunday to Monday. But the Karabakh capital Stepanakert was not shelled for a second consecutive night, RFE/RL correspondent Susan Badalian reported from the scene.

Most local residents continued to stay in basements and bomb shelters. Some of them told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that they expect renewed shelling.

Many buildings in Stepanakert have been seriously damaged since the start of the war on September 27.

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