Fighting over Karabakh goes on despite US mediation - GulfToday

Fighting over Karabakh goes on despite US mediation


An officer shows a Smerch rocket before demining it in the village of Tap-Qaragoyunlu on Saturday. AFP

A third attempt at halting weeks of fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh collapsed quickly on Monday with Armenia and Azerbaijan trading accusations of violating the US-brokered ceasefire within minutes.

As fighting over the disputed region enters its second month, international mediators are scrambling to bring a stop to frontline clashes and shelling of civilian areas that have left hundreds dead.


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The latest "humanitarian ceasefire" was announced by Washington on Sunday, after truces brokered by Russia and France fell apart over previous weekends.

It took less than an hour after the ceasefire was due to begin at 8am (0400 GMT) for the first accusations to be made.

Refugees of the Nagorno-Karabakh region look and sit in their beds in Yerevan on Saturday. Karen Minasyan/AFP

Azerbaijan's foreign ministry said Armenian forces had shelled the town of Terter and nearby villages in "gross violation" of the truce.

Armenia's defence ministry said Azerbaijani forces had "grossly violated" the ceasefire with artillery fire on combat positions in various parts of the frontline.

Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in a bitter conflict over Karabakh since Armenian separatists backed by Yerevan seized control of the mountainous province in a 1990s war that left 30,000 people dead.

Karabakh's self-declared independence has not been recognised internationally, even by Armenia, and it remains a part of Azerbaijan under international law.

Volunteer fighters stand in a village south-east of Stepanakert at the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. AFP

The current fighting broke out on September 27. Armenia and Azerbaijan accuse each other of having targeted civilians and of breaking the previous truces. Repeated calls for calm do seem to have had any effect.

After coming under heavy shelling at the start of the fighting, Nagorno-Karabakh's main city Stepanakert has been quieter in recent days.

AFP journalists in the city on Monday said the night had been calm. Ten minutes before the ceasefire took effect an explosion was heard and a plume of smoke seen on a nearby hill.

There were fewer sounds of fighting coming from the frontline on Monday morning than in previous days, though rounds of shelling could be heard in the distance.

Agence France-Presse

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