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Friday, February 23, 2024

Nearly 100 killed in Armenia-Azerbaijan clashes

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 Armenia and Azerbaijan have reported nearly 100 troop deaths in their worst fighting since a 2020 war over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The last wave of fighting over Azerbaijan’s tense Armenian-populated enclave ended in a fragile truce brokered by Russia.

But on Tuesday, the Azeri defence ministry said “50 Azerbaijani servicemen died as a result of Armenia’s large-scale provocation”, while Armenia earlier reported the deaths of at least 49 of its soldiers, Dawn reported.

Azerbaijan accused Armenia of violating the ceasefire after a night of clashes that renewed fears of another all-out conflict between the historic foes.

Russia said it had reached a ceasefire between the warring parties that brought several hours of relative calm, but Azerbaijan later accused Armenian forces of “intensely” violating the agreement.

Armenia appealed to world leaders for help after the fighting broke out, accusing Azerbaijan of trying to advance on its territory.

Armenia’s defence ministry said clashes had subsided after the ceasefire, but that the situation on the border was still “extremely tense”.

Turkey firmly sided with its regional ally Azerbaijan in the latest deadly outbreak of violence in the Caucasus, telling Armenia to “cease its provocations” against Baku.

“Armenia should cease its provocations and focus on peace negotiations and cooperation with Azerbaijan,” Turkey Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted after a phone call with Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov.

In the 2020 conflict also, Ankara backed Baku supplying it with combat drones that helped Azerbaijan claw back large parts of the territory it lost in Nagorno-Karabakh in a brutal war that followed the Soviet Union’s breakup in 1991.

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