Ar­me­nia, Azer­bai­jan reach new cease­fire

Toronto Star - - WORLD - AIDA SULTANOVA

BAKU, AZER­BAI­JAN— Ar­me­nia and Azer­bai­jan on Satur­day agreed to a new cease­fire in their con­flict over Nagorno-Karabakh start­ing from mid­night, a move that comes a week af­ter a Rus­sia-bro­kered truce frayed im­me­di­ately af­ter it took force.

The new agree­ment was an­nounced fol­low­ing Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov’s calls with his coun­ter­parts from the two coun­tries, in which he strongly urged them to abide by the Moscow deal. There were no im­me­di­ate claims of vi­o­la­tions af­ter the truce took ef­fect at mid­night.

Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azer­bai­jan, but has been un­der the con­trol of eth­nic Ar­me­nian forces backed by Ar­me­nia since a war there ended in 1994. The lat­est fight­ing that be­gan on Sept. 27 has in­volved heavy ar­tillery, rock­ets and drones, killing hundreds in the largest es­ca­la­tion of hos­til­i­ties be­tween the South Cau­ca­sus neigh­bours in more than a quar­ter-cen­tury.

Rus­sia, which has a se­cu­rity pact with Ar­me­nia, but has cul­ti­vated warm ties with Azer­bai­jan, hosted top diplo­mats from both coun­tries for more than 10 hours of talks that ended with the ini­tial cease­fire agree­ment. But the deal frayed im­me­di­ately af­ter the truce took ef­fect last Satur­day, with both sides blam­ing each other for breach­ing it.

The full-scale fight­ing con­tin­ued to rage through the week. In a new es­ca­la­tion, Azer­bai­jan on Satur­day ac­cused Ar­me­nia of strik­ing its sec­ond-largest city with a bal­lis­tic mis­sile that killed at least 13 civil­ians and wounded 50 oth­ers.

The Ar­me­nian De­fence Min­istry de­nied launch­ing the strike, but the sep­a­ratist au­thor­i­ties in Nagorno-Karabakh put out a state­ment list­ing al­leged “le­git­i­mate” mil­i­tary fa­cil­i­ties in the city of Ganja, although they stopped short of claim­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack.

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