Despite a second attempt at a ceasefire, Armenia and Azerbaijan traded accusations Sunday of violating the new truce in their destructive conflict over the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The latest truce, which was announced Saturday and took force at midnight, was the second attempt to establish a ceasefire since heavy fighting there broke out on Sept. 27. The fighting has killed hundreds and marks the biggest escalation of a decades-old conflict over the region in more than a quarter-century.
Armenian military officials on Sunday reported shelling and missile strikes by Azerbaijani forces carried out in the conflict zone overnight. In the morning, “the enemy launched an attack in the southern direction” of the conflict zone, and there were “casualties and wounded on both sides,” Armenian Defence Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanian said.
Azerbaijan’s defence ministry, in turn, maintained that Armenian forces continued shelling in the conflict zone overnight despite the ceasefire and in the morning launched attacks in several directions. The ministry also accused Armenia of using large-calibre weapons to attack the positions of the Azerbaijani army in two regions north of Nagorno-Karabakh along the border between the two countries, a claim Armenian military officials denied.
Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a war there ended in 1994.
The fighting has drawn worldwide concern now because oil-rich Azerbaijan has new military weapons and the strong backing of Turkey. Armenia claims that Turkey is sending Syrian mercenaries into the fighting to help Azerbaijan, an allegation that Turkey denies.