Iran fears regional war as Azeri and Armenian leaders trade accusations

Thursday, 08 Oct, 2020

The head of Russia's SVR Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergei Naryshkin, underlined Moscow's concerns by warning that Nagorno-Karabakh could become a launch pad for "international terrorist organisations" to enter Russian Federation and other countries.

Fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces erupted on Sunday over a longstanding territorial dispute centering around Karabakh, with almost 200 people dead. Supreme Leader representatives in regions along the northwestern border voiced support for Azerbaijan soon after the protest.

In his letter to Gabriela Cuevas Barron, the President of Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Ahmad Naderi called for the use of all parliamentary capacities and mechanisms for the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The regime is unlikely to align with Azerbaijan in this conflict, however, because of important policy tensions between Tehran and Baku.

Azerbaijan has demanded that Armenia withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh, which the government in Yerevan has vowed never to do.

Officials in the region said 21 more servicemen had been killed, bringing its total military death toll to 223 since the fighting began.

Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov sounded a note of alarm over the presence of Syrian fighters, saying it posed a "great danger and is a reason for the deep concern of Russia".

"We have seen extremely worrying reports of a surge in attacks on populated areas, which is taking a deadly toll on civilians", Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign affairs chief, told European lawmakers, calling on both sides to "fully observe their worldwide obligations" to protect non-combatants.

"On the evening of October 7, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held talks by telephone with Armenian Defense Minister David Tonoyan and Azerbaijani Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov", it said.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the USA, the European Union, Australia, Japan, Azerbaijan, with the YPG being the terror group's Syrian offshoot.

The ongoing clashes began on September 27, when the Armenian forces targeted civilian Azerbaijani settlements and military positions in the region, leading to casualties.

It broke away from Baku in a 1990s war that claimed the lives of some 30,000 people and declared independence. Azerbaijani troops took immediate counter-attack measures to push back against Armenia's artillery offensive.

The Azeri prosecutor's office said 27 Azeri civilians had been killed in the renewed fighting.

Pashinyan was sure that Russian Federation would come to its defense if necessary in its conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.

A man stands next to a building damaged by recent shelling during a military conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region in Ganja, Azerbaijan, October 6, 2020. A large-scale war between the two countries lasted until a ceasefire deal was reached in 1994.

The warring sides have so far ignored ceasefire calls by Paris, Washington and Moscow, which have mediated for almost three decades in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountain enclave which under global law belongs to Azerbaijan but is populated and governed by ethnic Armenians.

"Armenian armed forces must leave Azerbaijan's occupied territories", he said.