Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov have discussed the latest developments in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The two top diplomats conferred on the ongoing conflict between Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan over the disputed region in a telephone conversation on Friday evening.
Dozens have been reported killed as Azerbaijan and Armenia continue fighting in the South Caucasus breakaway region of Karabakh.
Six days after a decades-long territorial dispute prompted the heaviest fighting between Azerbaijan’s military and Armenian-backed forces in years, Baku says it will keep fighting until Armenian forces “fully” withdraw from the region.
The region, internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, has been under Armenian control since the early 1990s.
On Friday, the Armenian-backed forces reported 54 more military casualties, bringing the death toll to 158, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.
They said that the fighting was going on all along the front-line after “a relatively calmer night.”
Armenia’s defense ministry said Karabakh air defense systems had shot down an Azeri warplane and two drones, an online government platform reported.
An Armenian official said Azerbaijani forces on Friday struck Khankendi, the main city in Karabakh which Armenians call Stepanakert, wounding “many” people.
“There are many wounded among civilian population, civilian infrastructure is damaged,” Armenian defense ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan said on Facebook without providing further details.
The separatist government in Khankendi said Azerbaijani forces destroyed a bridge linking Armenia to Karabakh.
Armenian separatists seized Karabakh in a move supported by Yerevan after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992.
Some 30,000 people were killed in the conflict that ensued, which ended with a fragile ceasefire in 1994, with about 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory remaining under the control of Armenian forces.
The latest clashes follow a flare-up along the two counties’ border in July, which claimed the lives of 17 soldiers from both sides. In April 2016, some 110 people were killed in the most serious fighting in years.