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Iran Press TV

Turkey's defense minister says Armenia must leave Azerbaijan's territory

Iran Press TV

Monday, 12 October 2020 3:16 PM

Turkey's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar says Armenian forces must immediately leave Azerbaijan's territory.

In a phone call with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Monday, Akar demanded that the Armenian forces withdraw from the disputed South Caucasus region of Nagorno-Karabakh and halt attacks on civilians.

"Azerbaijan will not wait 30 more years for a solution," Akar also said, adding, "Turkey is on the side of Azerbaijan in its campaign to take back its own lands."

The call came days after a ceasefire brokered by Moscow was enforced to pull the plug on 25 days of fighting there.

The agreement to pause hostilities in order to exchange prisoners and the bodies of those killed was approved by the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in marathon talks in the Russian capital on Friday.

The talks were the first diplomatic contact between the two former Soviet republics since the recent escalation that broke out in late September. About 500 people have been reported killed.

Despite truce efforts, overnight clashes continued into Monday morning, according to reports which said the sound of shelling was heard in the main city of Khankendi.

Forces backed by Armenia were also reported to have attacked the Azeri town of Barda, not far from the front line, on Monday.

The Azeri Defense Ministry said Armenian forces were not complying with the Russian-brokered ceasefire.

Armenia, for its part, accused Azerbaijan of "intensively shelling the southern front," according to Armenian Defense Ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan.

She said "the adversary suffered great losses of manpower and military equipment." No further details were given.

In the meantime, officials from the separatist government of the disputed region said their forces had inflicted losses on Azeri forces and that large-scale military operations were ongoing in the Hadrut area.

President Aliyev says Turkey should be involved in talks

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev said on Monday he did not know when talks with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute would start, reiterating that Turkey must be a party to any such talks.

Aliyev pointed to the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which was formed to help settle the conflict and is co-chaired by France, Russia and the United States. The Azeri president says the Group is biased, and Turkey must also be involved.

"Turkey is also a member of the Minsk group, why shouldn't it be among the co-chairs? Even if many Western countries do not want to accept it, Turkey's word is big, it's fully independent."

Russia, a close ally to Armenia, has formerly warned that the fighting could turn the disputed region into a launch pad for terrorists, who could threaten the country's security.

Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but it has been held by ethnic Armenian separatists backed by Armenia since 1992 when they broke from Azerbaijan in a war that killed some 30,000 people.

In 1994, a ceasefire was put in place and the Minsk group was tasked with finding out a lasting resolution to the protracted conflict.

But for decades, the group has failed to stop sporadic outbreaks of fighting and implement four UN resolutions which demand that military forces leave the occupied territories and hand them over to Azerbaijan.

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