Saturday, June 22, 2024

Sources: 4 Armenian soldiers killed by Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh

Four Armenian soldiers were killed on Wednesday by Azerbaijani fire in Nagorno-Karabakh, say Armenian sources in the breakaway region, which has been at the centre of a decades-long territorial dispute between the two countries.

On Wednesday morning, “units of the Azerbaijani armed forces opened artillery fire” on Armenian positions, the Artsakh Defense Army said, adding there were “four servicemen who were killed in action as a result of another provocation by Azerbaijan”.

In a later statement the group announced that the situation along the border was now “relatively stable”.

The news came as the United States mediates three days of new peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan, in its latest attempt to quell a conflict that has flared repeatedly.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken opened closed-door talks with the adversaries’ foreign ministers just outside Washington on Tuesday, in the second such negotiation session he has led in as many months.

Russia has historically been the mediator between the two former Soviet republics but the United States and European Union have been increasingly active as Moscow gets bogged down in its invasion of Ukraine.

Armenia has repeatedly accused Russian peacekeepers of failing to live up to promises to protect ethnic Armenians in line with a 2020 ceasefire negotiated by Moscow after six weeks of fighting left thousands dead.

Russia last week pressed Azerbaijan to let traffic through the Lachin corridor that links Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh — a predominantly ethnic Armenian area effectively controlled by Yerevan since war during the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The International Committee of the Red Cross noted Azerbaijan had blocked access for convoys delivering aid to Karabakh, raising concerns of shortages of food and medicine.

Azerbaijan has insisted that civilians and aid convoys can travel through.

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