Azerbaijan and Armenia report shelling of cities despite truce

Monday, 12 Oct, 2020

Azerbaijan and Armenia accused each other of serious violations and crimes against civilians, and Azerbaijan also said it had launched airstrikes as a day-old humanitarian ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh looked increasingly frayed on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan's Foreign MinisterJeyhun Bayramov said that the ceasefire would only last for as long as it took for the Red Cross to arrange the exchange of the dead. The cease-fire was to start at 12 p.m. local time on Saturday to allow the sides to exchange prisoners and recover bodies of those killed in the fighting that flared up nearly two weeks ago.

If the truce had held, it would mark a major diplomatic coup for Russian Federation, which has a security pact with Armenia but also cultivated ties with Azerbaijan. "Armenia hides itself behind humanitarian ceasefire to attack Azerbaijani civilians", Azerbaijan's presidential spokesman Hikmet Hajiyev tweeted.

On early Sunday, Azeri Defence Ministry said that Ganja, which is the second largest city in the country, had been shelled by Armenian forces. The hostilities evolved into a war that was wrapped up in 1994 with a ceasefire. Azerbaijan's defense ministry said on Sunday that its forces retaliated with airstrikes against an Armenian military unit.

"We are giving Armenia a chance to settle the conflict peacefully", he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has called on Azerbaijan and Armenia to honor a Russia-brokered ceasefire agreement. However, president Aliyev's statement was immediately officially denied by the Ministry of Defense of Armenia as well as by reporters from WarGonzo, who were physically in the Hadrut area.

"Azerbaijan will not accept an imitation of talks" like those held in the past three decades, Azerbaijan's Hajiyev said at a news conference in Baku on Saturday, calling the cease-fire a temporary measure.

It's unlikely that Russian Federation will abandon Armenia should Azerbaijan deploy forces into Armenia proper. Intense fighting has killed hundreds and left a trail of devastation as the warring sides ignored repeated calls for a cease-fire by France, Russia and the USA, which act as the so-called Minsk Group of mediators. We need stability, both on ground & in the process led by Minsk Group Co-Chairs. The Armenian military has refuted Baku's statements.

At least 500 people have been killed since the conflict reignited on September 27.

Broers also warned of a "humanitarian catastrophe" building in the region. At the front line, there is some shooting with the use of artillery.

Armenia accused Azerbaijan on Thursday of hitting the Ghazanchetsots (Holy Saviour) Cathedral leaving a gaping hole in its roof and several journalists injured.

Armenia´s rights ombudsman Artak Beglaryan told AFP this week that the fighting has displaced around half of Karabakh´s 140,000 residents and forced some 90 percent of its women and children from their homes.

Deliberate targeting of civilians with the intent to kill or force out is a gross violation of worldwide humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions of 1949.