Azerbaijan and the Armenian separatists of Nagorno Karabaj they said Tuesday that they had caused each other heavy losses, on the third day of intense fighting in this enclave, despite calls from the United States, Russia or Germany to stop them.
LOOK: Combats between Azerbaijan and Armenia in Nagorno Karabakh cause multiple victims | VIDEO
Several foreign leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for an immediate ceasefire.
The UN Security Council meets urgently on Tuesday night to try to avoid an open war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which could destabilize the region and implicate Russia and Turkey, the regional powers.
The Kremlin on Tuesday called on Turkey to refrain from “adding fuel to the fire” and to work for peace in Nagorno Karabakh. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had called on Armenia to end “the occupation of Nagorno Karabakh” and promised that Ankara would remain “next to” Baku “by all means”.
For his part, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliev, thanked the “support” of “brother” countries (Turkey and Pakistan) and said that “if the international community is not able to stop the irresponsible dictator of Armenia, then Azerbaijan will do it” and “will restore its territorial integrity.”
Since Sunday, the forces of the separatist enclave of Nagorno Karabaj, supported politically, militarily and economically by Armenia, and those of Azerbaijan face the deadliest fighting since 2016.
As of Tuesday, the official death toll was 99, including 15 civilians (10 from Azerbaijan and five from Armenia). But both sides claim to have killed hundreds of enemy soldiers.
Armenia’s defense minister said on Tuesday that separatists had destroyed 49 drones, four helicopters, 80 tanks, a military plane and 82 Azerbaijani military vehicles since Sunday.
The authorities of Nagorno Karabaj they say they have regained positions lost the day before, which Azerbaijan denies, stating that they made further progress and destroyed “an Armenian motorized column and an artillery unit.”
For its part, the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan assured that the “fierce fighting” continued until Tuesday morning and that its forces had destroyed “an Armenian motorized column”, “an artillery unit” as well as four enemy tanks and a armored vehicle.
Failure of peace efforts
Azerbaijan, a Turkish-speaking country with a Shiite majority, is demanding the return under its control of Nagorno Karabakh, a mountainous province populated mainly by Christian Armenians, whose secession in 1991 was not recognized by the international community.
After weeks of war rhetoric, Azerbaijan announced on Sunday that it had launched a major “counteroffensive” in response to an Armenian “aggression”, using artillery, tanks and aircraft in attacks against the province, which it has not controlled since the fall of the Soviet Union and a war that claimed 30,000 lives.
Russia, France and the United States – the three mediators in the conflict within the so-called Minsk Group – unsuccessfully called for a ceasefire and negotiations.
“Both sides must stop the violence and work with the Minsk Group … to resume substantive negotiations as soon as possible,” US chief diplomat Mike Pompeo said Tuesday on the second day of a visit to Greece.
For her part, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that “an immediate ceasefire and a return to the negotiating table is urgent” in two separate telephone conversations with the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh accuse Ankara of supplying weapons, “military specialists”, drone pilots and aircraft to Baku, which Azerbaijan denies.
Russia maintains good relations with the two belligerents and wants to be the regional referee. However, it remains closer to Armenia, which belongs to a Moscow-dominated military alliance.
All mediation efforts for almost 30 years have failed to resolve this conflict and Nagorno Karabakh is regularly rocked by outbreaks of violence.
Both states declared martial law on Sunday and Armenia declared general mobilization. Azerbaijan has imposed a curfew on parts of the country, including its capital.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, called for “the protection of the civilian population” and “avoiding damage to critical civil infrastructure.”
An emergency closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council on the conflict will be held on Tuesday at 9:00 p.m. GMT.
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