A week after a first ceasefire, concluded but never respected, between Azerbaijan and Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh, a new “humanitarian truce” came into effect on Saturday at midnight. The two countries are already accusing each other of not having respected it.
“The Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan have agreed on a humanitarian truce from October 18 at 00:00 local time,” Armenian Foreign Ministry said, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry confirming in identical statement .
This is the second time the two sides have tried to reach a ceasefire after three weeks of fighting that left hundreds dead in Nagorno-Karabakh.
But only a few hours later, the spokeswoman for the Armenian Defense Ministry said on Twitter: “The enemy carried out artillery fire in a northbound direction between 12:04 a.m. and 2:45 a.m. (10:04 p.m. and 12:45 a.m. in Switzerland) and launched rockets south between 02:20 and 02:45 “.
Hours later, the Azerbaijani authorities made a similar statement: “Despite the announced truce, the Armenian armed forces blatantly violated the new agreement,” the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said in a statement, denouncing gunfire. enemy artillery and attacks along the front.
The announcement comes as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke on the phone in the evening with his Armenian and Azeri counterparts and insisted on “the need for strict compliance” with the ceasefire reached last Saturday. in Moscow, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Azerbaijan has achieved territorial gains over the past three weeks without winning a decisive battle. Baku has so far not revealed the cost of the conflict, releasing no military, material or human toll.
Internationalization of conflict
The separatists claim to have killed thousands of men, admit having had to back down but claim to “control the situation”. Officially, they lost around 700 men, and half of the 140,000 inhabitants were displaced.
Besides a potential humanitarian crisis, the international community fears an internationalization of the conflict, Turkey supporting Azerbaijan. Armenia, which financially and militarily supports the separatists, is in a military alliance with Russia.
In Gandja, Azerbaijan’s second city, many houses were destroyed by shelling overnight from Friday to Saturday which killed thirteen civilians, including children, and left more than 45 injured, according to the public prosecutor. “We will take revenge on the battlefield,” Azeri President Ilham Aliev proclaimed in a speech.
He called his separatist enemy in Nagorno-Karabakh and his godfather, Armenia, in turn “dogs” and “fascists”. His Turkish ally accused Armenia of “war crimes”.
The Armenians, for their part, accused Azerbaijan of having attacked civilian infrastructure in Nagorno Karabakh during the night, requiring a response.
The European Union for its part “deplored” these strikes, and once again called on “all parties to stop targeting civilians”.
afp / gma