World Armenia, Azerbaijan tensions rise amid claims of new attacks
Nagorno-Karabakh: Leaders spar over missile attack claims in Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict
The president of the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region warned citizens in large cities of Azerbaijan Sunday to leave to avoid "inevitable loss" after he said Azerbaijan targeted civilians in the region's main city of Stepanakert the last couple of days. © Dmitriy Vinogradov/Sputnik via AP Smoke rises after the recent shelling, in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh. Nagorno-Karabakh leader Arayik Harutyunyan said on Twitter that "mil objects in large cities of Azerbaijan are the target of the Defense Army of #Artsakh. Calling on Azerbaijani population to leave these cities to avoid inevitable loss.
YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan escalated Wednesday, as both sides exchanged accusations and claims of new attacks over the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, where heavy fighting continues for a third week despite a cease-fire deal.
In a statement compounding, Armenian Defense Ministry claimed it reserves the right to target Azerbaijani military objects and troop movements. That followed an announcement by the Azerbaijani military that it destroyed an Armenian missile system “targeted ... to inflict casualties among the peaceful population and to destroy civilian infrastructure.”
Why Armenia and Azerbaijan are fighting, and why it could get uglier
The countries have fought for years over a breakaway region, but this time, the U.S. isn't helping to mediate, and other major powers are picking sides.International observers and analysts warn that, unlike during previous clashes along the two countries' shared border, it may be hard to negotiate peace this time, not least because NATO member Turkey has backed Azerbaijan and the United States appears uninterested in playing the vital role of arbiter.
So far, Armenian officials have denied making any strikes on Azerbaijan from its territory, a claim contested by Azerbaijan. Openly challenging Azerbaijan militarily would raise the stakes in the decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is inside Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since the end of a separatist war in 1994.
Armenian officials said the military equipment hit by Azerbaijani forces was located on Armenian soil outside the conflict zone in Nagorno-Karabakh and denied targeting civilians. The country's Foreign Ministry condemned Azerbaijan's “attempt at military aggression towards Armenia's sovereign territory” and warned of “irreversible military and political consequences.”
Azerbaijan, Armenia report shelling of cities despite truce
BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Azerbaijan has accused Armenia of attacking large cities overnight in violation of the cease-fire deal brokered by Russia that seeks to end the worst outbreak of hostilities in the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh region. The Azerbaijani authorities said Sunday that nine civilians have been killed and over 30 wounded after Armenian forces fired missiles overnight on Ganja, Azerbaijan's second-largest city, and hit a residential building. According to Azerbaijan's Prosecutor General's office, the city of Mingachevir also came under missile attacks early Sunday.
Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry said it didn't have any military targets on Armenian soil and instead accused Armenia of trying “to expand the geography of a conflict.” Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev threatened “very heavy response,” should Armenia “carry out its plans to destroy” oil and gas pipelines in Azerbaijan.
Officials in Nagorno-Karabakh accused Azerbaijan of firing at a hospital in the region and called it “a war crime," but didn't elaborate on whether there were any casualties.
Azerbaijan strikes inside Armenia as Karabakh fighting widens
Azerbaijan said Wednesday it destroyed missile launchers inside Armenia that were targeting its cities, an escalation that threatens to further draw regional powers Russia and Turkey into the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Hundreds have been killed in two weeks of fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over the disputed region, and continued clashes have rendered almost meaningless a ceasefire agreed in Moscow last week. ArmeniaHundreds have been killed in two weeks of fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over the disputed region, and continued clashes have rendered almost meaningless a ceasefire agreed in Moscow last week.
The recent fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces erupted on Sept. 27 and marked the biggest escalation of the conflict. It has killed hundreds despite numerous calls for peace.
After more than 10 hours of marathon talks in Moscow, foreign ministers from Armenia and Azerbaijan signed a cease-fire deal that took effect Saturday.
Russia has a security pact with Armenia but also has cultivated warm ties with Azerbaijan, allowing it to be a mediator. It also co-chairs the so-called Minsk Group, set up by the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe in the 1990s to mediate the conflict, along with France and the United States, who also try to bring the warring parties to the negotiating table.
Immediately after the deal took effect, both Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other of breaching it with continued attacks.
Nagorno-Karabakh volunteers get weapons as clashes intensify
MARTUNI, Nagorno-Karabakh (AP) — As the fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces rages on in the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, its residents are joining volunteer squads to defend their towns. The Ovanisyan family and their neighbors were called Wednesday to receive their Kalashnikov rifles to help protect Martuni, a town close to the front line in the eastern part of the region. “I was summoned to the recruitment office to give me a gun so I can defend my land. I am always ready to fight for the well-being of my children," said Valery Ovanisyan, a 64-year-old Martuni resident.
Azerbaijan has repeatedly criticized the Minsk Group for stalling the peace process and said its ally Turkey should be involved.
“What matters is for Turkey to be at this table. And it already is,” Aliyev said in an interview broadcast Wednesday, pointing out that he discussed the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh with both the Russian and the Turkish presidents, and Russia's defense minister has recently talked about it to the Turkish defense minister.
“Turkey is there (in the process of settling the conflict) and we will do our best to ensure that it continues to be there,” Aliyev said.
Turkey has publicly sided with Baku and vowed to help Azerbaijan reclaim its territory. Turkey’s newly assertive role reflects President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ambitions to expand his nation’s clout.
Erdogan spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said an in interview Tuesday that Ankara wouldn't object to four-way peace talks involving Russia and Turkey as allies of Armenia and Azerbaijan. “The Minsk group is not able to produce a solution for the past 30 years. Are we to wait another 30 years? In this case we need to think of another mechanism," Kalin said.
Warring sides fight new clashes in 'powder keg' Nagorno-Karabakh
Warring sides fight new clashes in 'powder keg' Nagorno-KarabakhYEREVAN/BAKU (Reuters) - Armenian and Azeri forces fought new clashes on Friday, defying hopes of ending nearly three weeks of fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh which U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said was "a powder keg of a situation".
Turkey’s highly visible role in the conflict raised painful memories in Armenia, where an estimated 1.5 million died in massacres, deportations and forced marches that began in 1915. The event is widely viewed by historians as genocide, but Turkey denies that.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian accused Azerbaijan and Turkey of continuing “Turkey’s genocidal policy” toward Armenians.
Associated Press writers Aida Sultanova in Baku, Azerbaijan, Daria Litvinova in Moscow and Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey contributed to this report.
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Turkey has been backing forces in Syria, Libya, and Nagorno-Karabakh that have pushed back and beat Russia's advances.Most recently Turkey backed Azerbaijan's fight against Russia-backed Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. The region is a remnant of the Soviet Union's collapse and is based in Azerbaijan, but has a largely ethnic Armenian population and leadership.