Armenia, Azerbaijan resort to playing blame game after ceasefire violation
Armenia and Azerbaijan have blamed each other for violating a recently agreed-upon humanitarian ceasefire in the serously disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry stated this past Tuesday that Armenian forces had been shelling the Azeri territories of Goranboy, Terter, and Aghdam, “grossly violating the humanitarian truce.”
“Azeri armed forces are not violating the humanitarian ceasefire,” the ministry’s spokesman, Vagif Dargiahly, remarked.
But Shushan Stepanyan, Armenian Defense Ministry spokeswoman, immediately denied the accusation, commenting that Azeri forces had resumed operations after an overnight lull, “supported by active artillery fire in the southern, northern, northeastern, and eastern directions.”
The defense ministry of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic stated that rocket and artillery attacks had taken place on its north, south, and northeast on Tuesday.
Ethnic Armenian authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh commented on Tuesday that their total military death toll had now risen to 542.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan’s Prosecutor General’s Office said 42 Azeri civilians had been killed and 206 injured since the eruption of the latest fighting. The country has not provided a military casualty toll.
Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but has an Armenian population. The latest fighting over the region began on September 27 and has claimed hundreds of lives. Each side blames the other for instigating the deadliest fighting since 1994.
A ceasefire was agreed upon in the early hours of Saturday between the two countires during talks in Russia.
In spite of the Saturday ceasefire, which intended to allow an exchange of detainees and the collection of bodies from the battlefield, the International Committee of the Red Cross stated that it had not been able to actually continue to enforce such an exchange.
“To date, we keep discussing intensely with the sides on this topic. But no meaningful agreement has been reached yet that will allow us to actually proceed to such an exchange,”ICRC’s Eurasia regional director, Martin Schuepp, stated at a press briefing in Geneva, saying that it was passing proposals “back and forth.”
He also asked for security guarantees to be provided for ICRC staff so that they can handle the operation.
Also, the Russian Defense Ministry on Tuesday reaffirmed that it was “actively engaged in implementing Russia’s initiatives to swiftly stabilize the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.”
The ministry also expressed its grave concern about the use of terrorists from the Middle East region in Karabakh, reportedly by Turkey. It said Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had articulated those concerns to his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, during a recent phone call.
Turkey, which completely backs Azerbaijan in the region and has had somewhat poor relations with Armenia, is accused of deploying Takfiri militants from Syria to operate in the disputed Karabakh region.