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Armenia, Azerbaijan Trade Accusations Over Fresh Karabakh Fighting


NAGORNO-KARABAKH -- Ethnic Armenian militants stand at a checkpoint near village of Charektar at a new border with Kalbacar district turned over to Azerbaijan, November 25, 2020

Armenia accused Azerbaijan on Sunday of violating a Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement following fighting reported in Nagorno-Karabakh’s southwest.

It insisted that Azerbaijani forces launched an assault on Karabakh Armenian positions in and around around two remote villages in Karabakh’s southern Hadrut district that was mostly occupied by them during the recent war.

According to Armenia’s Defense Ministry, the Azerbaijani army used heavy artillery to capture one of those villages and approach the other on Saturday. A ministry statement said six Karabakh Armenian soldiers were wounded as a result.

It said that Russian peacekeepers rushed to the area late on Saturday to try to stop the hostilities. Their negotiations with local Armenian and Azerbaijani commanders are still going on, added the statement issued at around noon.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry said early in the afternoon that Azerbaijani troops also took “provocative actions” around two other Hadrut villages remaining under Karabakh Armenian control. It alleged a “blatant violation” of the ceasefire agreement that stopped the six-week war on November 10.

Azerbaijani denied violating the ceasefire, in a joint statement issued by its Defense Ministry and State Security Service. It said that the Azerbaijani army stationed in the Hadrut district launched a “counterterrorist operation” after one of their soldiers was killed on Tuesday.

The statement claimed that the Russian peacekeepers arrived in the area to try to “evacuate” Armenian troops remaining there. It said that the latter refused to pull out and attacked Azerbaijani forces.

The Armenian Defense Ministry asserted, however, the peacekeepers’ talks with the warring sides are aimed at getting them to “return to their previous positions.” It also said Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutiunian discussed the situation on the ground with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu during a visit to Moscow that began on Saturday.

The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed truce violations in the Hadrut area but did not blame either side for the escalation or say what the Russian peacekeepers are trying to do there. The peacekeepers have had no observation posts in that area until now.

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