Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to a humanitarian ceasefire from midnight, both countries said on Saturday night.
The move came after Azerbaijan said 13 civilians were killed in an Armenian missile attack on its second-biggest city, Ganja. The overnight missile raid also wounded dozens of people in their sleep and destroyed a row of homes.
The Armenian defence ministry denied the claim and accused Baku of continuing to shell populated areas inside Nagorno-Karabakh, including Stepanakert, the region’s biggest city.
Here are the latest updates on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict:
Saturday, October 17
19:31 GMT – Macron says Armenia-Azerbaijan truce must be respected
French President Emmanuel Macron has welcomed Armenia and Azerbaijan’s agreement to a humanitarian ceasefire from midnight and stressed that it should be strictly respected by both parties.
“This ceasefire must be unconditional and strictly observed by both parties. France will be very attentive to this and will remain committed so that hostilities cease permanently and that credible discussions can quickly begin,” the president’s office said in a statement.
19:05 GMT – Armenia, Azerbaijan announce ‘humanitarian truce’
Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to a humanitarian ceasefire from midnight, the foreign ministries of both countries said in separate statements.
The new agreement was announce following phone calls between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his counterparts. Lavrov strongly urged the countries to abide by a Moscow-brokered that frayed immediately after it took force.
The two sides trade blame for breaching that deal.
“This decision was taken following the statement of the presidents of the French Republic, the Russian Federation and the United States of America, representing the co-chair countries of the OSCE Minsk Group, of Oct. 1 2020, the Statement by the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group of Oct. 5, and in line with the Moscow Statement of Oct. 10,” Armenia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
#Armenia & #Azerbaijan have agreed to humanitarian truce as of October 18th, 00h00 local time. This decision was taken following Oct1 statement of Presidents of @OSCE MGCC countries #France, #Russia & #USA, Oct5 Statement by MGCC Co-Chairs and in line w/ OCT10 #Moscow Statement.
— Anna A. Naghdalyan (@naghdalyan) October 17, 2020
17:47 GMT – Turkic Council condemns Armenia’s attack on Azerbaijan
The Turkic Council said on Twitter: “Bombing civilians is against international humanitarian law. The Turkic Council condemns Armenia’s new arbitrary attacks by ballistic missiles on Ganja & civilians.”
They urged Armenian forces to stop attacking civilians and withdraw their occupying forces from Azerbaijani lands.
Omer Kocaman, deputy secretary general of Turkic Council, said these attacks constitute “war crimes.”
17:01 GMT – Three-year-old loses whole family in Ganja missile attack
A mother and her 16-month-old daughter have been buried in the same grave after a missile attack on the Azerbaijani city of Ganza that killed at least 13 civilians, as fighting intensifies over the disputed of Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Zuleykha Shahnazarova and her daughter Madina Shahnazarli were killed overnight on Saturday, along with the father of the family, Royal Shahnazarov.
The couple’s other daughter, three-year-old Khadija Shahnazarli, survived the attack and was being treated in a hospital in the nearby city of Barda.
14:02 GMT – Rescue operation still ongoing in Ganja
Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel Hamid, reporting from Baku, said the Azeri officials were saying at least two missiles have hit Ganja overnight.
“One hit the southwest entrance of the city and the other one – a bit more towards the city centre where the most number of the civilian casualties happened,” she said.
“The rescue operation is still ongoing as the body of at least one child is still missing.”
12:00 GMT – Azerbaijan says it is advancing into Nagorno Karabakh
Azerbaijan’s defence ministry has claimed its troops have advanced in various directions across the frontline in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Video shared by the ministry purported to shows air strikes on positions of Armenian forces.
In a televised address, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said the town of Fizuli and several other villages in Azerbaijan have been “liberated”, gaining a “strategic edge.”
Fizuli is one of the seven Azerbaijani regions outside Nagorno-Karabakh that was seized by the Armenian forces during the war in the early 1990s.
11:38 GMT – Armenia under ‘intense pressure’ says Al Jazeera correspondent
Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith said Armenia is under pressure for losing control of territories it regarded as the buffer zone between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan.
“The foreign ministry of Armenia has released a tweet and it says that consistent attempts by Azerbaijan to extend the geography of the conflict, plus irreversibly undermining regional security should be condemned in the strongest terms,” Smith said, speaking from the Armenian town of Vorotan.
“And this is because the leadership of Armenia is under intense pressure. It has lost control of some territory to Azerbaijan, territory that Armenian forces have controlled since the 1994 ceasefire.”
“Armenia is accusing Azerbaijan of taking this territory militarily rather than the negotiations over which both sides agreed to take part in.”
09:30 GMT – Turkey calls attack on Azerbaijani city by Armenia ‘war crime’
Armenia is committing a “war crime” and must be held responsible for its “atrocity,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter.
Armenia still commits war crimes&massacres civilians. Kills innocent people incl. children.Silence against this atrocity equals sharing responsibility of these murders.Those who have no humanity will be held accountable for their crimes.Will always stand by brotherly #Azerbaijan.
— Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (@MevlutCavusoglu) October 17, 2020
Hikmat Hajiyev, a foreign policy aide to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, said his country wants a ceasefire.
“We support a humanitarian ceasefire, but Armenia isn’t giving it a chance … they keep targeting residential areas,” Hajiyev said in an online briefing with journalists.
09:00 GMT – Azerbaijan president vows ‘revenge’ after shelling on Ganja
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev vowed to strike back against Armenia after shelling on his country’s second largest city Ganja.
Aliyev said Azerbaijan’s army would retaliate against Armenia and “take revenge on the battlefield,” in televised remarks hours after the shelling on a residential area in Ganja flattened rows of houses.
08:35 GMT – Ganja official says death toll is 13, including two children
Mushfiq Jafarov, a member of parliament from Ganja, told Al Jazeera stringer Seymur Kazimov that the death toll from the attack on Ganja now stands at 13.
“There are only civilians living here,” he said, adding that two little children were among those killed.
Jafarov said two sites were targeted, with a distance of 5km between them.
“More than 40 are wounded,” he said.
08:20 GMT -Civilians in Ganja decry Armenian attack on their homes
The attack on Ganja, which has a population of more than 300,000 people, came only six days after a missile struck another residential part of the city, killing 10 civilians and leaving many on edge.
“Fortunately my family and I were not at home,” Sevil Aliyeva told Al Jazeera stringer Seymur Kazimov. “My house is fully destroyed. I do believe the Azerbaijani army will take our revenge from Armenian forces.”
“We were sleeping. The kids were watching TV,” Rubaba Zhafarova, 65, said in front of her destroyed home.
“All the houses around here are destroyed. Many people are under the rubble. Some are dead, some are wounded.”
08:00 GMT – Erdogan tells Trudeau suspension of drone exports is against alliance spirit
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a phone call that Canada’s suspension of the export of some drone technology was not in line with the spirit of alliance, Erdogan’s office said.
Canada suspended the export of some drone technology to Turkey earlier this month as it probes allegations the equipment was used by Azeri forces involved in fighting with Armenia.
Turkey and Canada are both members of NATO.
Following Canada’s announcement, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry had said the suspension showed a double standard.
Turkey’s military exports to its ally Azerbaijan have risen six-fold this year, with sales of drones and other military equipment rising to $77m last month alone before fighting broke out over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, according to exports data.
07:00 GMT – Azeri human rights official accuses Armenia of ‘provoking’ Azerbaijan
Ahmad Shahidov, the head of Azerbaijan Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, told Al Jazeera his country was being provoked by Armenia to respond to military attacks.
“Azerbaijan liberated several regions from under Armenian occupation. That’s why the Armenian army moved back to Armenia and fired from its territory to provoke Azerbaijan to destroy these fire points,” he said.
International law demands the withdrawal of the external troops from Nagorno-Karabakh, he added.
“There are four UN security council resolutions that immediately demand the withdrawal of external troops from Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding region.
06:45 GMT – Scud missile fired on Ganja, Al Jazeera correspondent says
The overnight attack on Ganja was caused by a Scud missile, said Al Jazeera’s Sinem Koseoglu.
“What we have been hearing from [Azeri] officials is that this is a Scud missile that was fired from Armenian territory,” she said, speaking from the capital Baku.
Koseoglu said the general prosecutor of Azerbaijan and the minister of state of emergency are in the area trying to understand the impact of this explosion, and to hear from the locals who witnessed the attack.
It’s not an earthquake.
It’s #GanjaCity where Armenian army indiscriminately bombing the city.
More than 20 buildings flattened, casualties unknown.#ArmeniaKillsCivilians
— Hakan Copur (@hakancopur1) October 16, 2020
“People say there are still civilians under the rubble, and that the impact of this explosion caused by the Scud missile is large,” she said.
Scud missiles are a series of tactical ballistic missiles developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War era.
05:55 GMT: Azerbaijan says 12 civilians killed, 40 wounded in Ganja by Armenia shelling
Azerbaijan said 12 civilians were killed and more than 40 were wounded in the city of Ganja due to shelling by Armenia.
The Azeri Prosecutor General’s office said that two shells hit apartment buildings in the country’s second-largest city.
There has been no official reaction from Armenia as yet.