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25 Oct 2020 | 09:36 PM UTC

Azerbaijan: Clashes continue in and around Nagorno-Karabakh as third ceasefire is agreed from October 26 /update 24

Azerbaijan News Alert

Clashes continue in and around Nagorno-Karabakh as third ceasefire is agreed from October 26; further clashes likely

TIMEFRAME expected from 10/24/2020, 11:00 PM until 11/1/2020, 11:59 PM (Asia/Baku). COUNTRY/REGION Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan

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Event

The governments of Azerbaijan and Armenia accused each other of initiating attacks in and around the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan on Sunday, October 25, as both governments agreed to a third ceasefire which will begin from 08:00 (local time) from Monday, October 26. Self-proclaimed authorities in the Armenian-backed Artsakh Republic claimed that Azeri forces fired on the settlements of Askeran and Martuni over the evening of Saturday, October 24, and stated that fighting occurred across the Line of Contact on Sunday. Meanwhile, Azeri authorities stated that shelling had occurred in the areas of Agdam, Aghjabedi, and Terter. They also stated that they had repelled an attack by Armenian forces in the Gubadli area of the front. The defense ministry of Artsakh also declared another 11 casualties among its fighters on Sunday.

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.

Context

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 1000 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. Despite this, both sides have accused each other of violating the ceasefire. On Saturday, October 17, Azeri authorities stated that at least 12 people had been killed and 40 others wounded in rocket strikes which targeted the city of Ganja. Both sides later agreed to a second ceasefire following consultations with the Russian government.

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.

Advice

Western governments generally advise their citizens against all travel to Nagorno-Karabakh and the Azerbaijan-Armenia border. Those in Azerbaijan are advised to monitor developments and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.

 

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