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Armenia-Azerbaijan: Renewed shelling blames both sides

Yerevan, Armenia –

Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other of fresh shelling Wednesday morning as hostilities flared between the two longtime rivals.

The Armenian Defense Ministry accused Azerbaijani forces of launching combat drones in the direction of the Armenian resort of Jermuk during the night and renewed artillery and mortar shelling tomorrow morning in the direction of Jermuk and the village of Verin Shorzha near Lake Sevan.

The Azerbaijani military, in turn, alleged that Armenian forces had shelled their positions in the Kalbajar and Lachin districts near the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Armenia said at least 49 of its soldiers have been killed since fighting broke out early Tuesday, while Azerbaijan said it lost 50 soldiers.

The two countries have been stuck in a decades-long conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, part of Azerbaijan but have been under the control of Armenian-backed Armenian forces since the separatist war ended. in 1994.

Azerbaijan regained large swaths of Nagorno-Karabakh and neighboring territories held by Armenians in a six-week war in 2020 that killed more than 6,600 people and ended with a peace deal negotiated by Russia mediate. Moscow has deployed about 2,000 troops to the area for peacekeeping missions under the agreement.

Russia quickly entered into negotiations to end the fighting on Tuesday, but the ceasefire it sought to broker failed to keep as trading parties were blamed for violations.

“Despite the calls of the international community and the ceasefire agreement reached, the Armenian armed forces continue their attacks and provocations on the state border using artillery and heavy weapons. other,” the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

It said two Azerbaijani civilians were wounded by Armenian shelling in the Kalbajar and Lachin districts.

Moscow has made a delicate balancing act seeking to maintain friendly relations with both countries of the former Soviet Union. It has close economic and security ties with Armenia, home to a Russian military base, and has developed close cooperation with oil-rich Azerbaijan.

The international community also called for calm.

The Armenian government said it would formally ask Russia for assistance under a treaty of friendship between the countries, and called on the United Nations and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a security alliance led by Moscow is dominated by the states of the former Soviet Union.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and leaders of other CSTO members discussed the situation in a call late Tuesday, calling for a swift end to hostilities. They agreed to send a delegation of top officials from the security alliance to the region.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the mission will send a report assessing the developments to the leaders of CSTO member states. “The situation remains tense,” Peskov said at a Wednesday meeting with reporters.

On Friday, Putin will hold a meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, where the two will attend the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a security group co-chaired by Russia and China. treat.

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Aida Sultanova in London and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.

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