A new ceasefire to stop the battle in one of the world’s longest-running conflicts between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh’s disputed excursion seems to have failed.
Hours after the ceasefire came into effect at midnight on Sunday, Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other of a bombardment breach.
The Armenian Defense Ministry released a video footage stating that Azerbaijani troops were “terribly” violating the ceasefire with artillery four minutes after the ceasefire came into effect. Azerbaijan said Armenian troops continued to bombard the conflict lines and border areas north of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The ceasefire is the second attempt to stop the fighting, killing at least 1,000 people since it began in late September. The Russian-mediated ceasefire collapsed shortly last week.
Nagorno-Karabakh is located on the border of Azerbaijan, but is home to Armenians who operate unrecognized statelets with the support of Armenia.
Flare-ups have been the worst since the war over the 150,000-inhabited territory of the Caucasus Mountains in the early 1990s, killing more than 30,000 people.
Azerbaijan claimed to have regained two of the seven border areas outside Nagorno-Karabakh, which were seized by Armenia during the war. “Azerbaijan will do that and only on the battlefield,” Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, said in a pre-ceasefire speech.
The vow that Azerbaijan will forcefully recapture the region was boosted by high-tech weapons and political support from Turkey.
Armenia and Russia, which have mutual defense agreements with Moscow, also say that Azerbaijan uses mercenaries hired by Turks from Syria and Libya — allegations denied in Baku and Ankara.
Turkey, which cast its weight behind Azerbaijan’s efforts to reclaim the land that Baku claims to be illegally occupying, looked cold about the prospect of a ceasefire. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly emphasized his desire to see a “permanent solution” to the conflict after decades of unsuccessful mediation by Russia, France and the United States.
Prior to the ceasefire announcement, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar accused those seeking negotiations and a halt to the fight, “watching Armenia from a distance for committing war crimes.”
Azerbaijan said 13 people were killed and another 50 were injured when an Armenian missile attack struck a residential area in Ganja, the country’s second-largest city, 40km north of the conflict zone.
The Nagorno-Karabakh administration has issued a statement denying Armenia’s responsibility for the attack, but claiming that Ganja has several “legal” military installations. Officials in Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, said three civilians were killed during a cannon attack in Azerbaijan on Saturday.