Authorities in Armenia have agreed to a new humanitarian ceasefire with Azerbaijan which is due to commence at midnight (local time) on Saturday, October 17. A ceasefire between the warring Armenia and Azerbaijan in the restive Nagorno-Karabakh region was agreed on October 10 but has failed to be upheld and fighting has continued in and around the disputed region.
The latest agreement comes after the Azerbaijani city of Ganja was targeted in rocket fire in the early hours of Saturday. Azeri officials stated that the death toll from the attack was 12, and the prosecutor general's office stated that at least 40 others were injured after two rockets struck apartment buildings within the city. Azeri officials stated that a projectile also landed in an industrial area of Ganja.
Further clashes in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region are highly likely over the near term. Clashes along the length of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border outside the Nagorno-Karabakh region cannot be ruled out. A heightened security presence and disruptions to transportation are expected.
The latest round of hostilities erupted on September 27, when Azerbaijani forces reportedly carried out strikes on settlements in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, including the regional capital Stepanakert. Following retaliatory attacks by separatist forces, Azerbaijan launched what it claimed to be a 'counter-offensive' in response. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan made extensive use of heavy weapons during the clashes, including artillery and loitering munitions, and released footage claiming to show the destruction of enemy armored vehicles and installations. A state of war, martial law, and mobilization were declared in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh. Over 400 people, including civilians, have been killed since the renewed outbreak of hostilities. In addition to fighting along the Line of Contact, cities in Nagorno-Karabakh and outside of the conflict zone have been targeted in artillery strikes including Stepanakert, Ganja, Barda, Beylagan, Terter, and Mingecevir.
On October 10, both sides agreed to a ceasefire to allow for the exchange of prisoners and the recovery of the bodies of those killed in the conflict and the cessation of hostilities will be followed up with further talks aimed at reaching a settlement regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.
Armenia and neighboring Azerbaijan have a long-standing dispute over the possession of Nagorno-Karabakh, home to some 150,000 inhabitants (mostly ethnic Armenians) and located in the west of Azerbaijan. This issue has fuelled tensions between the two countries since 1988; with some 30,000 people being killed in fighting from 1990 to 1994. The two countries declared another ceasefire in April 2016 after the region experienced four days of violent clashes that left hundreds dead.
Tensions between the two countries remain high and each side frequently accuses the other of violating the ceasefire agreement.
Western governments generally advise their citizens against all travel to Nagorno-Karabakh and the Azerbaijan-Armenia border. Those in Armenia are advised to monitor developments and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
Copyright and Disclaimer