A ceasefire that came into effect between Armenia and Azerbaijan hours ago today, halting nearly two weeks of bitter clashes over the long-disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, was shortlived as both parties immediately accused each other of derailing the deal in the separatist region. After around 10 hours of negotiations, moderated by Moscow, the two warring nations agreed on a peace deal to allow prisoners and the bodies of the dead to be exchanged, Reuters reported.
But the two sides traded blame for breaking the truce that took effect at noon (0800 GMT) with new attacks, and Azerbaijan’s top diplomat said the truce never entered force.
Minutes after the Russia-brokered truce took force, the Armenian military accused Azerbaijan of shelling the area near the town of Kapan in southeastern Armenia, killing one civilian. Azerbaijan’s Defence Ministry rejected the Armenian accusations as a “provocation.”
Earlier in the day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the two countries will soon begin “substantive” talks on the settlement of the conflict.
“Concrete parameters of the ceasefire will be agreed separately,” Lavrov had said, reading from a statement. “Azerbaijan and Armenia begin substantive negotiations with the purpose of achieving a peaceful settlement as soon as possible.”
On September 27, fighting broke out between the two countries around the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh and the Armenian Defense Ministry said two Azerbaijani helicopters were shot down. More than 300 people have lost their lives since the clashes first erupted.
Here are the top updates on the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict
Armenia, Azerbaijan accuse each other of new attacks despite ceasefire
Armenias and Azerbaijan forces accused each other of firing missiles and rockets on civil areas on Saturday despite a ceasefire agreement that came into effect at noon, AFP reported.
“In disregard of the previously declared humanitarian ceasefire, Azerbaijani forces at 12:05 launched an attack towards Karakhanbeyli,”Armenian defence ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan said. “The Karabakh army is taking measures to repel the attack.”
Around half an hour after the ceasefire was due to take effect, Azerbaijan’s defence ministry reported shelling in the districts of Terter and Agdam.
Missiles, intense shelling reported by both countries ahead of truce
The Nagorno-Karabakh region’s ombudsman Artak Beglaryan claimed that Azerbaijan had fired missiles on civilian areas of its main city Stepanakert hours before the ceasefire was set to take effect, AFP reported.
“Baku uses the same style of #WarCrimes by the very last moment,” he tweeted, adding that casualties were yet to be reported.
Soon after the two warring nations agreed to a ceasefire, an AFP journalist in Stepanakert reported hearing two explosions early on Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan’s defence ministry has accused Armenia of shelling several civilian areas. “Armenian armed forces are intensively shelling populated areas in Geranboy, Terter, Agdam, Agjaberdi, and Fizuli districts. Azerbaijan is taking reciprocal measures,” the ministry said in a statement.
Canada says Turkey, others should stay out of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
Canada urged Turkey and other nations to stay out of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, according to Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne. The top Canadian official pushed his Turkish counterpart to help de-escalate tensions in the area by encouraging close ally Azerbaijan to take part in peace talks, Reuters reported.
“My message was very clear, that Turkey and all external parties should stay out of the conflict … we had a firm discussion where I was firm with him as to where Canada stands,” Champagne told reporters on Sunday.
He added that both he and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu agreed that there was no military solution to the conflict.
Earlier, while the US, France and Russia jointly condemned the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh and called for a ceasefire, Turkey — an ally of Azerbaijan — dismissed these demands.
Armenia smuggling in arms under guise of humanitarian aid, Azerbaijan claims
Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a press statement on Sunday alleging that weapons are being transported into Armenia by civil aircrafts under the guise of humanitarian aid, Al Jazeera reported.
Under the guise of humanitarian aid, weapons are transported by means of civil aviation to #Armenia by its aircrafts.
— MFA Azerbaijan 🇦🇿 (@AzerbaijanMFA) October 9, 2020
Azerbaijan also accused the Armenian Ministry of Emergency Situations of smuggling weapons into the country. “In particular, missile systems and other weapons are transported,” the statement read.
The country’s foreign ministry appealed to the International Civil Aviation Organization to investigate the matter.
Azerbaijan ‘liberates’ towns, several villages ahead of ceasefire
A day before the two warring nations agreed to a ceasefire, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev announced that the country’s army had “liberated” several settlements from Armenian occupation, Al Jazeera reported.
Today Azerbaijan’s Army has liberated the town of Hadrut, and Chayli, Yukhari Guzlek, Gorazilli, Gishlag, Garajali, Efendiler, Suleymanli and Sur villages. Long live Azerbaijan’s Army! Karabakh is Azerbaijan!
— Ilham Aliyev (@presidentaz) October 9, 2020
Aliyev claimed that the settlement of Hadrut north of Ceyrayil city, as well as several villages including Chayli, Yukhari Guzlak, Gorazilli, Gishlag, Garajalli, Afandilar, Suleymanli and Sur had rejoined with the rest of Azerbaijan in what he called a “historic victory”.