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Canada Canada concerned about broader conflict as renewed fighting erupts on Armenia's border

12:02  29 september  2020
12:02  29 september  2020 Source:   cbc.ca

Karabakh. At least 24 dead in one day, the world calls for an end to the fighting

 Karabakh. At least 24 dead in one day, the world calls for an end to the fighting © EPA-EFE / MELIK BAGHDASARYAN In the center of the Armenian capital, several dozen volunteers gathered on Sunday afternoon to go to the front. Further fighting in the breakaway Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh has left at least 24 dead. An escalation that arouses international concern.

Azerbaijan and Armenia are again fighting over disputed territory in the Caucasus Mountains — but this time the conflict could grow into a regional war and lead Canada is warning against escalation, while one expert warns that the conflict could turn into a humanitarian catastrophe if it persists.

As Armenia and Azerbaijan now hammer tanks and troops from the ground and the air, a regional conflict The unexpected intensity of the latest clashes that erupted along border regions on Sunday has A direct attack would almost certainly trigger a response from Russia. Canada ’ s concerns .

a sunset over a fire: A still image from a video released by Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry on Monday. The ministry says it shows members of Azeri armed forces firing artillery during clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh in an unidentified location. © Defence Ministry of Azerbaijan/Reuters A still image from a video released by Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry on Monday. The ministry says it shows members of Azeri armed forces firing artillery during clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh in an unidentified location.

With Armenia and Azerbaijan now pounding each other's tanks and troops from the ground and the air, a regional conflict over an old battleground in the South Caucasus Mountains is threatening to spiral into something larger and much harder to control.

Nagorno-Karabakh caught between Armenia and Azerbaijan

 Nagorno-Karabakh caught between Armenia and Azerbaijan © Reuters (Archive) Armenian soldiers in a trench near the town of Martuni, in Nagorno-Karabakh, in April 2016. Armenia and Azerbaijan, two former Soviet Caucasian republics, have held each other in stubborn hatred for decades over territorial conflict. Spotlight on two neighbors that everything opposes and who still clash since Sunday in deadly fights. Armenia and Azerbaijan have been fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region for almost a hundred years.

For decades, Armenia and Azerbaijan have been in conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh — a region that is in Azerbaijan but has been under control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since 1994. Canada concerned about broader conflict as renewed fighting erupts on Armenia ' s border .

Members of Toronto's Armenian community are mourning the death of a Canadian - Armenian businessman and community activist who was killed in Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday. Canada concerned about broader conflict as renewed fighting erupts on Armenia ' s border .

Canada is warning against escalation, while one expert warns that the conflict could turn into a humanitarian catastrophe if it persists.

The enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh — internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but in practice ruled by Armenia since 1994 — has witnessed fierce fighting on and off for 30 years.

The breakaway state, known as the Republic of Artsakh, has a population of roughly 150,000, mostly ethnic Armenian and Christian. They're outnumbered by a largely Muslim majority in Azerbaijan.

Heavy tanks, helicopters and rockets have been deployed, and the capital of Artsakh, Stepanakert, has come under direct bombardment. The unexpected intensity of the latest clashes that erupted along border regions Sunday has triggered fears that other, bigger regional players, such as Turkey and Russia, could be drawn into the dispute.

Nagorno-Karabakh: Erdogan flies alongside his Azerbaijani "brother"

 Nagorno-Karabakh: Erdogan flies alongside his Azerbaijani © MURAD SEZER Protesters carrying a banner reading "Karabakh is Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is Turkey ”on Tuesday in Istanbul. By condemning the Armenian authorities with whom he is cold, the Turkish president intends to position himself against the Minsk group supposed to facilitate the resolution of the conflict and to project itself into the military field.

The latest outburst of fighting between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces began Sept. 27 and marked the biggest escalation of the decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Canada concerned about broader conflict as renewed fighting erupts on Armenia ' s border .

Canada concerned about broader conflict as renewed fighting erupts on Armenia ' s border . The Azeri prosecutor's office said on Wednesday seven more civilians had been wounded as a result of shelling of the city of Terter, which borders Nagorno-Karabakh.

Full mobilization

"It became clear from the get-go that this was an entirely different affair, and in Armenia we are treating this like war,"  said Raffi Elliot, 30, a Canadian-Armenian who since 2012 has lived in the capital, Yerevan, where he works for a tech startup.

Elliot says he and his wife and two young children were in the city during the last flare-up in July, and the one before that in 2016, but the ferocity of the opening battles and the heavy casualties already taken by both sides makes this situation feel "unprecedented."

"My colleagues and I all went to donate blood, and people are lining up to contribute to donation drives for food, water, clothing and medical equipment for the people in Karabakh who are being shelled," he told CBC News in an interview.

"You don't really hear patriotic grandstanding or stuff — it's more of a 'We're facing an existential threat and were ready to face it together,'" he said.

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Canada concerned about broader conflict as renewed fighting erupts on Armenia ' s border . Armenia said two French nationals working for France's Le Monde newspaper had been wounded during Azeri shelling of the Armenian town of Martuni and taken to hospital.

Renewed fighting over a long-standing territorial dispute could have broader implications, with Russia and Turkey supporting the opposing sides. A new major conflict has erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the long-disputed mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh region, with casualties being

"Existential" is also the word used by Neil Hauer, a Canadian security analyst who follows developments in the Caucasus from his home in Tbilisi, Georgia.

"This is very significant in that it looks like it's on the brink of a full-scale war," said Hauer.

The leaders of both Armenia and Azerbaijan have declared martial law and put their nations on a full military mobilization, blaming each other for the escalation.

Internet and most communication links have been cut, but some photos and videos posted online purport to show buildings damaged in the current conflict and families huddling together in basements to avoid airstrikes.

Geopolitics via YouTube

The two nations have used duelling YouTube channels to showcase the destruction each claims to have inflicted on the other, and to try to rally their populations with propaganda victories.

On the Azerbaijan Ministry of Defence account, one video purports to show an Armenian truck being destroyed from the air, presumably by a drone overhead. Armenia's military posted what appears to be a video of one of its airstrikes obliterating an Ajerbaijani tank.

Yerevan reports attack by Azerbaijan on the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh

 Yerevan reports attack by Azerbaijan on the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh According to Armenian information, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh was attacked by the armed forces of Azerbaijan on Friday. Several people were injured in the attacks on Stepanakert, a representative of the Ministry of Defense in Yerevan said on his Facebook page. "There are many civilians injured and civil infrastructure has been damaged," wrote Arzrun Owanissjan. He did not say which weapons were used in the attacks.

WATCH | Armenia says this video shows its military blowing up an Azerbaijani tank in Nagorno-Karabekh:

Azerbaijan's foreign minister said Monday that six Azeri civilians had been killed and 19 injured since the fighting began. Interfax news agency quoted an Armenian defence ministry representative as saying 200 Armenians had been wounded.

Nagorno-Karabakh reported Monday that 28 more of its soldiers had been killed. It had said on Sunday that 16 of its servicemen had been killed and more than 100 wounded after Azerbaijan launched an air and artillery attack.

Over the decades, Azerbaijan and Armenia have engaged in peace talks to try to settle the status of the territory, but with little progress.

In July, 16 people were killed in clashes, which in turn triggered large street protests in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku and demands for the government to retake Nagorno-Karabakh by force.

Most independent accounts suggest the current conflict began with an assault by Azerbaijani troops and armour at several points along the former ceasefire line, although it also appears several villages in Armenia proper were also targeted.

Turkey suspected of involvement

Hauer says a significant change in the dynamic of the conflict is Turkey's decision to take on a more direct role in support of Azerbaijan. Its President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has referred to Armenia as the "biggest threat to regional peace."

Armenia wants to discuss with the OSCE to reestablish a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh

 Armenia wants to discuss with the OSCE to reestablish a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh AZERBAIDJAN-ARMENIA: Armenia wants to discuss with the OSCE to re-establish a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh © Reuters / AZIZ KARIMOV ARMENIA WANTS TO TALK WITH OSCE TO REBUILD A Ceasefire in Upper KARABAKH by Nvard Hovhannisyan EREVAN (Reuters) - Armenia said on Friday it was ready to talk with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to restore a ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, where fighting has continued for six days.

"Credible reports appear to suggest that Turkish drones may have been used," said Hauer, also noting that journalists from Turkish television were on the front lines with Azerbaijani forces during the initial battles, as if they were tipped off the attack was coming.

Armenian diplomats have also accused Turkey of sending several thousand rebel fighters from northern Syria to join in the battle on Azerbaijan's side, though both Turkey and Azerbaijan deny that.

a man holding a fish: In this image supplied by the Foreign Ministry of Armenia, a man holds an ammunition part following what locals say was a recent shelling by Azeri forces, in the town of Martuni in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, on Monday. © Foreign Ministry of Armenia/Reuters In this image supplied by the Foreign Ministry of Armenia, a man holds an ammunition part following what locals say was a recent shelling by Azeri forces, in the town of Martuni in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, on Monday.

Hauer says if Azerbaijan persists with its military assault and manages to capture portions of Nagorno-Karabakh, it could turn into a humanitarian catastrophe for the civilian population.

"Statements by Azerbaijani officials over the years have been that they want to wipe out the Armenian presence in the region," he said.

Haunted by history

The relationship between Turkey and Armenia is haunted by the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks before, during and after the First World War.

Their 300-kilometre-long border has been closed for the past 30 years, and Turkey's government has refused repeated calls by the international community, including Canada, to recognize the genocide for what it was.

But whatever desire Turkey may have to increase its military influence in the region will run up against Russia's partnership with Armenia.

Russia has a permanent military base about 120 kilometres north of Yerevan, where it stations roughly 3,000 troops.

Hauer says the garrison is meant to deter Turkey from taking any action against Armenian territory. A direct attack would almost certainly trigger a response by Russia.

Canada's concerns

A group of bipartisan Canadian parliamentarians who make up the Canada-Armenia Friendship Group released a statement Monday warning Turkey — a NATO ally — not to get involved.

"The ongoing rhetoric from Turkish leadership, from official channels in particular, is completely unhelpful," Ontario Liberal MP Bryan May told CBC News in an interview. Turkey's foreign minister has called Armenia an "occupying state," and other Turkish government officials have called Armenia's presence in Nagorno-Karabakh "a crime against humanity."

More than 60,000 Canadians claim Armenian ancestry, mostly in Montreal and Toronto, and May says the development of strong political institutions in Armenia is something Canada has strongly supported — and needs to get behind now.

War in Nagorno-Karabakh: Azerbaijan claims to act in accordance with international law .
© Adrien Vautier Artillery debris in the town of Martouni. Baku, whose territory has suffered strikes, has never recognized the secession of its former province populated mainly by Armenians, and emphasizes respect for territorial integrity. Ilham Aliyev is adamant. After eleven days of fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Azerbaijani president did not vary his speech an inch. He, like his people, wants a ceasefire to be achieved "as soon as possible", but it must meet specific conditions.

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