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Border fighting re-erupts between Azerbaijan and Armenia

Soldiers carry coffins during funerals at a military cemetery in Yerevan on March 2, 2021, for fighters killed during the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, several days after their bodies were identified. - A military conflict with Azerbaijan that erupted last year over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region claimed around 6,000 lives on all sides. (Photo by ARIS MESSINIS / AFP) (Photo by ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Firing has re-erupted between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which has reported artillery and drone strikes on Armenian border towns of Goris, Sotk and Jermuk.

Armenia’s defence ministry said that on Tuesday morning Azerbaijan’s armed forces used “artillery, mortars, drones and large-calibre rifles”, killing at least 49 Armenian personnel.

It said the attacks targeted both military targets and civilian infrastructure at Vardenis, Sotk, Artanish, Ishkhanasar, Goris, Jermuk and Kapan, forcing Armenia to retaliate.

Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said the strikes were small-scale to ensure border security. It said Azerbaijan had lost 50 personnel in the fighting.

It accused Armenia of conducting small arms fire in Gadabay and Lachin regions near the border. Armenia denied the claims.

There were clashes in August over the disputed mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh region that has a largely ethnic Armenian population but is in Azerbaijan’s territory.

Russia, an ally of Armenian, has a peacekeeping force in Nagorno-Karabakh after brokering a ceasefire in early November 2020, ending a 44-day conflict where Armenia’s forces were crushed and at least 6,500 people died.

The conflict showcased the devastating impact of Turkey’s Bayraktar drones, which were deployed by its ally, Azerbaijan, in September 2020 to accurately destroy Armenia’s largely Russian-supplied military hardware.

Bayraktar drones have since been used with equally decisive impacts in Libya, Syria, Ethiopia and Ukraine where they played a key role in crippling Russia’s offensive against Kyiv in February. The Bayraktar has consistently destroyed Russian military kit in several theatres of conflict.

Under the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakhagreement, Armenia withdrew from territory it had controlled since the early 1990s and Russia deployed about 2,000 peacekeepers to oversee the truce.

Russia’s foreign ministry urged both countries “to refrain from further escalation and show restraint”.

The Kremlin maintains strong religious, economic and security ties with Armenia, where the Russian military has a base, while also cooperating with oil-rich Azerbaijan.

Ethnic-Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan when the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991. Around 30,000 people died in the war that followed.

The US State Department said: “The United States is deeply concerned about reports of attacks along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, including reported strikes against settlements and civilian infrastructure inside Armenia. As we have long made clear, there can be no military solution to the conflict. We urge an end to any military hostilities immediately.”

Source: Eurasia Times