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26 Oct 2020 | 08:59 AM UTC

Azerbaijan: Azerbaijan claims violation of latest ceasefire by Armenian forces October 26 /update 25

Azerbaijan News Alert

Azerbaijan claims Armenian violation of latest Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire on October 26; further conflict activity likely in medium term

TIMEFRAME expected from 10/26/2020, 12:00 AM until 11/1/2020, 11:59 PM (Asia/Baku). COUNTRY/REGION Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan

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Event

The Azerbaijan defense ministry accused Armenian forces in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of violating the latest ceasefire between the two countries on Monday, October 26, minutes after the truce entered into effect. Azeri sources claimed that several villages in the Terter and Lachin areas of the country, close to the Nagorno-Karabakh line of contact, had been targeted in artillery strikes at around 08:05 (local time), five minutes after the declared cessation of hostilities. However, the claims of ceasefire violations were denied by Armenian-backed authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh, who claimed that their own positions had been hit by artillery and loitering munitions strikes, although it is unclear if these attacks occurred after the ceasefire.

The latest ceasefire agreement is the third since hostilities in the Nagorno-Karabakh region erupted on September 27. The previous truce agreements on October 10 and October 17 were both allegedly violated within hours, with both sides continuing hostilities over the disputed region. On Sunday, October 25, artillery exchanges and airstrikes were reported in various areas on both sides of the line of contact, including the Askeran and Martuni areas in Nagorno-Karabakh and the Azeri districts of Agdam, Aghjabedi, and Terter, while an Armenian offensive was allegedly repelled in the Gubadli area.

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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