Three Armenian Soldiers Killed in Ongoing Clashes With Azerbaijani Troops
Aleksandra Serebriakova. Sputnik International
05:28 GMT 28.07.2021(updated 08:15 GMT 28.07.2021)
A long-unresolved conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh escalated in September 2020, leading to serious clashes and the death of thousands of soldiers. A Russia-brokered ceasefire was reached in November of the same year. However, cross-border tensions between the two countries continue to flare up.
The Armenian Defence Ministry said in a statement that three Armenian servicemen had been killed and two were wounded following clashes with Azerbaijan on 28 July. Armenia blamed the casualties on "the attack" by the Azerbaijan's armed forces.
As per 05:20 GMT, the firefight was ongoing, according to the ministry.
Armenia's MoD said on Twitter that Azerbaijan had violated the ceasefire in the north-eastern part of the border between the two countries on Wednesday morning.
"Localized battles are taking place. Azerbaijan's military-political leadership bears the entire responsibility of the escalation," the ministry said.
Several hours earlier, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence announced that two of its soldiers had been wounded as a result of small arms fire in the Kalbajar region.
"On 28 July, starting from about 00:50, the Armenian armed forces units from the combat positions located in various directions in the territory of the Basarkechar region, using small arms and grenade launchers, have once again subjected to fire the positions of the Azerbaijan Army in the territory of the Kalbajar region," the Azerbaijani ministry said in a statement.
"We reaffirm that Armenia bears full responsibility for the escalation of tensions along the state border between the two countries," they added.
The ministry said that tensions in the Kalbajar region remain ongoing. Azerbaijan said that reports about alleged damages to civilian facilities in Armenia were "false".
Baku also called on Armenia to start talks on "delimitation" for the purpose of formalising the boundaries between the two states.
"We call on the military-political leadership of Armenia to refrain from provocations and the deliberate aggravation of the situation on the state border of the two countries and to start negotiations on the delimitation of the state border in a civil manner."
Azerbaijan later said in a statement that they had agreed to the initiative from Russia to declare a ceasefire at the border at 06:00 GMT, but accused Armenia at that time of not putting a halt to small arms fire. Armenia later confirmed the agreement had been reached.
2020 Ceasefire and Ongoing Clashes
The ethnic and territorial tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan severely escalated in September 2020, resulting in a declaration of martial law in both states and thousands of casualties on both sides.
Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to a ceasefire brokered by Russia, with fighting ending on 10 November. As a result, much of the territory formerly controlled by the breakaway, self-declared "Republic of Artsakh" (another name for Nagorno-Karabakh) was lost to Azerbaijan. Armenian forces backing 'Artsakh' were forced to return the Kalbajar, Agdam and Lachin Districts to Azerbaijan; in addition, Baku was also able to keep control over several other captured territories.
As per the deal, the Lachin Corridor stayed under the control of Russian peacemaking forces to guarantee safe passage through the Lachin region between Armenia and the ethnically Armenian enclave (Artsakh), centered around the city of Stepanakert.
However, the two sides have continued to accuse each other of ceasefire violations. Armenia accused Azerbaijani troops in May of crossing into Armenia's southern Syunik province - which separates Azerbaijan from its exclave Nakhchivan - and trying to stake a claim to the territory. In later June, the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry said that the Armenian armed forces had opened fire on an Azerbaijani position in the Tovuz District.
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