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Baku Warns Of Fighting ‘To The End’ Amid Claims More Civilians Shelled In Karabakh Conflict


A fire truck damaged by shelling in Nagorno-Karabakh on November 1.

(RFE/RL) Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev issued more dire warnings over the ongoing fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh on November 1 as he and other senior officials met with a senior visiting delegation from staunch ally Turkey.

The tough talk out of Baku also came as Azerbaijan and Armenia each accused the other of launching new attacks as the worst flare-up between the sides since 1994 entered its sixth week.

The ethnic Armenian side has reported more than 1,200 troop and civilian deaths since the escalation began on September 27 in and around the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Azerbaijani side does not report military casualties, but has said 91 civilians have been killed and around 400 more injured.

But international groups have warned of the suspected use of banned cluster munitions -- whose toll on civilian populations is especially heavy -- in the fighting.

The ethnic Armenian leadership of Nagorno-Karabakh on November 1 accused Azerbaijani forces of targeting the town of Martuni and other areas with missile strikes overnight.

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said Armenian forces were shelling its positions on the two countries’ internationally recognized border as well as civilian settlements in Tartar and Aghjabedi.

The de facto ethnic Armenian authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh have claimed during the weekend that Azerbaijan’s armed forces have been using white phosphorus munitions in their operations. Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense, however, has denied the claim, saying that Baku has no such munitions in its arsenal.

Many of the claims and counterclaims around the fighting are difficult to confirm independently.

Aliyev on November 1 repeated Baku’s demand that Armenia withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas and warned that Azerbaijani troops would “go to the end” if negotiations cannot achieve that goal.

He was speaking during a meeting with the delegation led by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Baku.

Aliyev, whose country also has extensive ties to Russia but has appeared to lean heavily on Turkish and Israeli military equipment recently, said Yerevan had “no basis” for a request for assistance from Moscow.

Armenia has a security guarantee from Russia through a bilateral treaty and via the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian on October 31 formally asked Moscow to start consultations on the “type and amount” of assistance that Moscow can provide to Armenia.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the same day that it would provide “all assistance required” under the treaty if the conflict spilled onto the territory of Armenia proper.

The United States, France, and Russia – co-chairs of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) -- have failed to find a route to a cease-fire or a longer-term resolution of the dispute.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on October 27 spoke separately by phone with Pashinian and Aliyev, urging both sides to pursue a diplomatic solution, but a U.S.-mediated cease-fire has given way just like several Russian- and French-mediated efforts before it.

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