Nagorno Karabakh: The exchange of accusations between Armenia and Azerbaijan of...

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A man inspects his destroyed home in Azerbaijan

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A temporary ceasefire agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan came into effect, after two weeks of fierce fighting in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

However, the two sides exchanged accusations of violating the ceasefire agreement.

The truce aims to enable the two parties to exchange prisoners and recover the bodies of the dead.

Officials in Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh say they want the region to be recognized as an independent state, but Azerbaijan says the ceasefire will not be extended and that it expects to control more territory.

Before the ceasefire came into effect, Armenia and Azerbaijan also accused each other of bombing civilian areas.

More than 300 people have been killed and thousands displaced since the latest outbreak of violence in the long-running conflict on September 27.

The Nagorno-Karabakh region is governed by Armenians, although it is officially considered part of the territory of Azerbaijan.

And blame the two former republics of the Soviet Union on each other for causing the latest outbreak of violence, which is the worst in decades.

How was the ceasefire achieved?

The ceasefire was agreed upon after 10 hours of talks in the Russian capital, Moscow. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the two countries would now start holding “substantive” talks.

However, Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatskanyan later described the talks as “somewhat difficult”, and said that Armenia wants Nagorno Karabakh to be internationally recognized as an independent state.

Nagorno-Karabakh officials, whose independence was declared unilaterally, echoed the Armenian call, accusing Azerbaijan of using ceasefire talks as a cover to prepare for new attacks.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jihon Bayramov said that he did not put enough pressure on Armenia during the talks, and that the situation in Nagorno Karabakh could not continue as it was.

He said that Azerbaijan expects to impose its control on more territory, and that the ceasefire will only last as long as the Red Cross needs to complete the exchange of dead bodies.

Turkey, which supports Azerbaijan, said the truce was Armenias “last chance” to withdraw its forces from the disputed territory.

Moscow meeting

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The ceasefire talks lasted 10 hours, sponsored by Russia

Russia maintains a military base in Armenia. The two countries are also members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) coalition.

However, Moscow also has good relations with Azerbaijan.

What are the latest data on the ground?

The Armenian Ministry of Defense said that the Azerbaijani forces launched the attack five minutes after the truce was scheduled to take effect, and that Armenian forces responded to it. The Ministry of Defense also said that Azerbaijani forces bombed a city.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense in Azerbaijan said that Armenia is “flagrantly violating the ceasefire regime,” and is firing on the Azerbaijani regions in “Tatar” and “Agdam”, which was denied by Armenia.

There was also heavy fighting before the ceasefire. The Nagorno-Karabakh authorities said that Azerbaijan fired missiles at civilian neighborhoods in the city of “Stepanakert”, which is the main city in the region, while Armenia accused the Azeri forces of intensifying their air strikes using drones.

For its part, Azerbaijan said that Armenia bombed populated areas near Nagorno Karabakh with artillery, and that it was responding to fire directed at it.

On Thursday, Armenia accused Azerbaijan of intentionally bombing a historic cathedral in Nagorno Karabakh. Pictures showed great damage in the Cathedral of the Holy Savior in Shusha (known as Shushi in Armenian).

At the same time, Azerbaijan said that the city of “Ganja”, its second largest city, and the “Goranboy” region were bombed by Armenian forces, resulting in the killing of at least one civilian.

In an interview with the BBC last week, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan warned of “genocide” in the region, and said that “Armenia is the land of Armenians.”

The clashes have displaced half of Nagorno-Karabakh’s population – roughly 70,000 people, according to officials.

The city of “Stepanakert” had suffered from bombing over several days, as residents resorted to shelter in basements, while electricity was cut off in most parts of the city.

Armenia and Azerbaijan fought wars over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between 1988 and 1994, and eventually declared a ceasefire. However, they have never reached a settlement to their dispute.

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