And a third armistice within two weeks came into effect at 8:00 am local time. Within minutes, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said in a statement that Armenian forces bombed villages in the Tartar and Lachin regions. The Ministry of Defense in Karabakh denied this, and said that the Azerbaijani forces launched a missile attack on Armenian military positions on the northeastern side of the contact line.
The Armenian Ministry of Defense said in a statement that Azerbaijan violated the ceasefire around 9:00 am local time.
The recent fighting broke out in Karabakh, a mountainous region in Azerbaijan inhabited and controlled by ethnic Armenians, on September 27th. The fighting is the worst in the South Caucasus region since the 1990s, and two truces, brokered by Russia, have not held a ceasefire between the two parties.
The world powers are seeking to prevent the outbreak of a wider war in which Turkey may participate, which has declared its strong support for Azerbaijan, and Russia, which has concluded a defense treaty with Armenia. The conflict has strained relations between Ankara and its NATO partners.
The US efforts to calm the tension in Karabakh collide with Turkey’s incitement to its ally Baku to move forward with the option of a military solution instead of a peaceful settlement, which complicates the crisis and pushes for its prolongation.
Baku finds in Turkish support and Western reluctance driven by geopolitical calculations a favorable opportunity to impose its options to settle the crisis, after Ankara strengthened the fighting fronts by sending Syrian mercenaries.
A few days ago, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denied accusations of sending Syrian fighters supported by Ankara to Karabakh to fight alongside Azerbaijan against Armenian separatist forces.
During a speech in Ankara, Erdogan stressed that “some are telling us you sent Syrian (fighters) there. We don’t have such intentions. They have a lot to do in their country, they will not go to Nagorno Karabakh.
Several countries, including France, have confirmed during the past weeks that Syrian fighters are taking part in the fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Karabakh, where the majority of Armenians are. On Monday, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said, “Turkish F-16s came to Azerbaijan in the past to conduct joint exercises, and that in the event of exposure to an external attack, they will show themselves.”
The latest ceasefire agreement was reached on Sunday after talks in Washington between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Armenian and Azeri counterparts.
Representatives of the OSCE Minsk Group, formed to mediate in the conflict and led by France, Russia and the United States, also participated in the talks. The group said its heads and foreign ministers agreed to meet again in Geneva on October 29.
Karabakh province said 974 of its soldiers have been killed since September 27, and Azerbaijan says 65 Azerbaijani civilians have been killed, but it has not disclosed its military losses.