Armenian and Azerbaijani forces yesterday accused each other of carrying out new attacks despite a ceasefire agreement from noon to end fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
“In disregard of the previously declared humanitarian ceasefire, Azerbaijani forces at 12:05[pm] launched an attack toward Karakhanbeyli,” an area on the front line, Armenian Ministry of Defense spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan said. “The Karabakh army is taking measures to repel the attack.”
The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense reported 30 minutes after the ceasefire was due to take effect that Armenian forces were shelling the districts of Terter and Agdam.
Bitter fighting in the Caucasus has claimed hundreds of lives, forced thousands to flee, and stirred fears of a full-blown war that could suck in regional powers Turkey and Russia.
Speaking after 11 hours of Moscow-mediated talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov said that the warring sides had agreed to a ceasefire from “12 hours, 00 minutes on Oct. 10 on humanitarian grounds.”
It was not immediately clear whether the pause in fighting would come into effect at noon in Moscow or the local time in Karabakh.
During the ceasefire — mediated by the International Committee of the Red Cross — the parties would exchange bodies and prisoners, Lavrov said, reading from a statement.
“Concrete parameters of the ceasefire will be agreed separately,” he added.
Russia’s top diplomat also said that Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to start negotiating a peaceful solution to the territorial dispute.
“Azerbaijan and Armenia begin substantive negotiations with the purpose of achieving a peaceful settlement as soon as possible,” Lavrov told reporters, adding that such talks would be mediated by France, Russia and the US.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who has repeatedly vowed to use his military to retake the breakaway province, earlier said that the talks represented a historic opportunity for Armenia.
“We are giving Armenia a chance to settle the conflict peacefully,” he said. “This is their last chance.”
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