Drones, sensors and long-range weapons have given one side a clear edge in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
At least nine people have been killed in overnight Armenian bombardment in Azerbaijan’s second city of Ganja, the Azeri Prosecutor General’s Office said, less than 24 hours after a ceasefire in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory was agreed.
The Russia-brokered truce, put in place after marathon talks in Moscow between both sides, was meant to halt fighting to allow ethnic Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh and Azeri forces to swap prisoners and war dead.
Both sides accused each other of violating the terms of the truce merely minutes after it came into effect. Armenia has denied targeting Ganja, and accused Azeri forces of shelling Nagorno-Karabakh’s capital Stepanakert, as well as other towns during the night in violation of the truce.
This is Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the latest developments of the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Here are the latest updates:
The EU’s diplomatic chief has expressed his deep concern over reports of violations of a ceasefire between warring neighbours Armenia and Azerbaijan in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
“We note with extreme concern the reports of continued military activities, including against civilian targets, as well as civilian casualties,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.
Zara Amatuni from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the humanitarian impact of the current conflict “is immense.”
“We are in regular discussions with [both] sides about the nature of our involvement,” Amatuni told Al Jazeera.
“However, for now, the date for the operation to begin is in the hands of the sides, and the ICRC stands ready to facilitate support in their humanitarian obligations to release the detainees, on the one hand, on the other, to return the human remains so that the families can bury their loved ones with dignity.
“We’ve been hearing reports [of] shelling on both sides of the line of contact, which has not allowed us to get involved in any kind of agreement, or attempt for humanitarian operation.
“We are talking now of at least tens of thousands of people that will be needing assistance in the next few months to be able to cope with the toll taken on them because of the surgent violence.”
Hopes that a Russian-brokered ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan might hold were further eroded Sunday, with both sides accusing the other of intensive shelling of civilian areas and escalating two weeks of fierce clashes.
Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry said that overnight shelling by Armenian forces on the country’s second-largest city, Ganja, had left at least nine people dead and 33 wounded including children, less than 24 hours after the halt to fighting was supposed to take effect.
One witness said they were woken by a huge blast that levelled an entire square block of one- and two-storey houses in the early hours of the morning, leaving nine apartments destroyed.
Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan has accused Azerbaijan of violating the terms of a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh on Saturday, raising questions about how meaningful the truce, brokered by Russia, would turn out to be.
Azerbaijan said enemy forces in Karabakh were shelling Azeri territory and that one civilian had been killed. Both sides have consistently denied each others’ assertions in what has also become a war of words accompanying the fighting.
“Armenia has not broken the [terms of the] ceasefire, and that has also been rejected by the Ministry of Defence,” Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan told Al Jazeera.
“We achieved an important statement yesterday night, to establish a ceasefire for humanitarian purposes.
“But a few hours later in the earlier hours of the morning on Saturday, Azerbaijan continued with its military operations, and in every direction.. [but] they have continuously targetted the civilian settlements … the civilian infrastructure of the Nagorno-Karabakh in a methodic way.”
Hello, this is Elizabeth Melimopoulos in Doha, Qatar taking over the live updates from my colleague Linah Alsaafin
The president of Nagorno-Karabakh has accused Israel of backing Azerbaijan.
Speaking at a news conference, Arayik Harutyunyan said Azerbaijan had been using Israeli-made attack drones in the recent fighting.
“They continue to provide these UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) and the authorities of Israel are responsible for this genocide,” he told reporters.
Harutyunyan also accused Azerbaijan authorities of failing to comply with an agreement on the exchange of prisoners and the dead that should have taken place on Sunday with the support of the Red Cross.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has asked his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, to press Armenia to abide by the terms of a Russian-brokered truce in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Turkish foreign ministry said.
In a statement, Turkey’s foreign ministry strongly condemned an Armenian missile attack on Ganja, Azerbaijan’s second city, on Sunday morning. Turkey is a close ally of Azerbaijan.
The attack that targeted an apartment building, killing nine civilians is “a new example of provocations by the Armenian administration to spread the conflict beyond the occupied Azerbaijani territories,” the statement said.
Pope Francis deplored Sunday a fragile truce between warring neighbours Armenia and Azerbaijan in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region and said he was praying for victims there.
Speaking after the Angelus prayer in Rome, the pontiff welcomed the ceasefire, but added: “The truce proves to be too fragile,” the Vatican news service said.
Francis urged regional leaders to resolve the conflict “not through the use of force and arms, but through the means of dialogue and negotiation,” it added.
Armenia and Azerbaijan, traditional enemies, have been building up their armed forces over the last decade.
Drones, sensors and long-range weapons have given one side a clear edge in the conflict between the two countries.
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Vladimir Sotnikov, an analyst with the Russian Academy of Sciences, has told Al Jazeera that Moscow has the influence to not only broker a ceasefire but also getting Azerbaijan and Armenia to agree to a peaceful settlement.
“Russia managed to get both sides to the negotiating table, which is a critical step [that led to] a ceasefire and substantive agreement,” said Sotnikov, speaking from Moscow.
“But the second critical step would be when both parties under Russian mediation would agree to continue negotiations to reach a settlement.”
David Babayan, the adviser to Nagorno-Karabakh’s President Arayik Harutyunyan, told Al Jazeera the ethnic Armenians in the disputed territory are surprised by Turkey’s public support for Azerbaijan.
“If there is direct involvement of Turkey – and I don’t see that Turkey will pull out of the region – it means that somehow we need to change some geopolitical approach to our state and further strengthen our relations with brother countries, like Russia, United States, Iran and China,” Babayan said.
Turkey has vowed to support longtime ally Azerbaijan “on the battlefield or the negotiating table,” if needed. However, the Turkish government has denied Armenian claims that it is sending Syrian fighters and F-16 combat jets to assist Azeri forces.
The disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region is recognised under international law as part of Azerbaijan. However, ethnic Armenians who form the majority of the population in Nagorno-Karabakh, reject Azerbaijani rule. It broke away from Azerbaijan in a war in the 1990s but no country recognises the region as an independent republic.
Heavy fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh has prompted fears the dispute could spiral once again into all-out war, as the United Nations called for an immediate ceasefire.
See here what the armies of Armenia and Azerbaijan have at their disposal, and how much money these two countries are investing in their defence sectors.
Hundreds of people from Argentina’s Armenian community demonstrated Saturday in Buenos Aires, calling for an end to fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh.
They marched from the Azerbaijan embassy and gathered in front of Turkey’s embassy, which has been accused of military support for Azerbaijan in the conflict. Ankara denies the charge.
Diana Dergarabetian, a second-generation Argentinian-Armenian, lamented shelling in the region.
“The losses are deplorable on both sides,” she told AFP. “This struggle is not against the people of Azerbaijan. The Armenian people are defending their right to self-determination.”
The leader of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region said hostilities with Azerbaijan have reduced on the second day of the ceasefire, but that the truce was precarious.
“It seems that since this morning it is calmer, but that can change very quickly,” Arayik Harutyunyan told journalists in the regional capital Stepanakert.
Overnight shelling in the administrative city of Nagorno-Karabakh, Stepanakert, resulted in no casualties, with residents saying the second day of the ceasefire has been much quieter.
“The ceasefire [was] wobbling heavily overnight but is quieter it seems this morning,” said Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, speaking from the Armenian town of Goris.
Residents of Stepanakert welcomed the truce, but warned against a temporary fixture.
“A ceasefire is certainly good, but the problem must be solved,” said Boris Grigoryan, a barber.
“You can’t have a ceasefire and several years later, a war again. A ceasefire must solve the problem that is our independence.”
The targeting of a building in Ganja has resulted in the injury of more than 40 people, including at least 10 children, Al Jazeera’s Sinem Koseoglu said.
Speaking from the site where seven people have been killed, Koseoglu said the search and rescue teams are digging through the rubble and are expecting to find more bodies.
“The impact of the explosion is very wide,” she said. “We heard from the officials that this is a ballistic missile that hit the area. The diameter of the explosion area from where the missile hit is more than 10 metres deep.”
Ganja and Mingachevir cities have no active artillery units deployed there. No single rocket or bullet was fired from this cities. Yet Armenian army targets them. And somehow they keep hitting only civilian targets.
— Khadija Ismayilova (@Khadija_Ismayil) October 11, 2020
Koseoglu added that the Azeri industrial city of Mingecevir was also targeted by “two ballistic missiles around 4am local time”.
“The ceasefire seems to be totally violated and out of order. Citizens of Azerbaijan are not happy with the ceasefire because they have lost many civilians and military personnel in the conflict.”
Azerbaijan said on Sunday that shelling by Armenian forces on the country’s second-largest city had left seven people dead, a day after a ceasefire between the two sides had been due to take effect.
A “new nightly missile attack by Armenian forces on (a) residential area of Ganja,” left seven dead and 33 wounded including children, Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
The defence ministry in the breakaway region said Armenian forces were respecting the ceasefire and in turn accused Azerbaijan of shelling civilian areas.
Reports of “Karabakh forces shelling Ganja is an absolute lie”, it added.