As the conflict enters its fourth week, Armenians and Azerbaijanis accused each other of new attacks on Monday (October 19th). The “Humanitarian truce” supposed to have entered into force the day before remains a dead letter in the conflict which undermines the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. This attempt to organize a ceasefire is the second since the resumption of hostilities on September 27. The first truce, negotiated under the aegis of Moscow for October 10, was never respected.
On Monday morning, the Azerbaijani defense ministry accused Armenian separatist forces of bombing the territory of Aghdjabedi district, as well as those of Goranboy, Terter and Agdam the previous night.
For its part, the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Ministry accused Azerbaijan of having carried out artillery fire at night on “Different sectors of the front”, and to have continued his attacks in the morning. “The Karabakh Army is taking proportionate measures”, he assured. The night in Stepanakert, a separatist capital which has suffered bombardments since the start of hostilities, was however calm, according to a journalist from Agence France-Presse.
At least seven hundred dead
On Twitter, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev accused separatist forces of raping “Impudently” the ceasefire and killing civilians by shooting at residential neighborhoods. He also claimed the conquest of thirteen new localities. The resumption of fighting three weeks ago left at least some 700 dead. But the losses are arguably much higher, with each side claiming to have killed thousands of enemies. Azerbaijan announces territorial gains almost daily. The separatists admitted having had to back down, but judge the situation ” under control “.
The truce, announced for Sunday although it has so far not been respected, came the day after a separatist bombardment in Azerbaijan’s second city, Gandja, which left thirteen dead.
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 part of a military alliance with Russia. Nagorno-Karabakh, mainly populated by Christian Armenians, seceded from Azerbaijan, a Turkish-speaking Shia Muslim state, shortly before the breakup of the USSR in 1991, leading to a war whose death toll had then amounted to 30,000 dead. A ceasefire marked by clashes had been in force since 1994.