Armenia Says Fighting Continues For Secret Karabakh Town

Armenia stated on Monday that fighting was continuing for the key town of Shusha in Nagorno-Karabakh, a day after Azerbaijan declared to have captured it from Armenian separatist forces.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev announced on Sunday his forces had taken Shusha, understood to Armenians as Shushi, a tactically crucial town that is the second-largest in the disputed area.

The capture of Shusha would be a significant victory for Azerbaijan AFP/ Karen MINASYAN

Armenian officials denied the claim and stated clashes in the area were continuous.

” Extensive fight has been waged in the Shushi-Karintak sector,” Armenian defence ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan said on Twitter, referring to a village at the base of cliffs on which the town sits.

” The enemy has actually retreated, while friendly forces have occupied more favourable lines,” she said.

Military volunteers walk on a forest roadway in the Shusha region on October 31, 2020 AFP/ Davit GHAHRAMANYAN

The capture of Shusha would be a significant victory for Azerbaijan 6 weeks after new combating appeared over Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian enclave that broke away from Azerbaijan’s control in the 1990s.

The fortress town lies around 15 kilometres (nine miles) from the enclave’s biggest city Stepanakert and on the main roadway to Armenia, which backs the separatists.

Fresh combating broke out in late September in between Azerbaijan and the separatists over Karabakh, which declared self-reliance nearly 30 years ago.

Nagorno-Karabakh is an ethnic Armenian enclave that broke away from Azerbaijan’s control in the 1990s AFP/ Jonathan WALTER

That declaration has actually not been recognised globally, even by Armenia, and it remains a part of Azerbaijan under global law.

The recent fighting has actually been the worst in years, with more than 1,000 people reported killed including dozens of civilians and the real death toll believed to be much higher.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev announced Sunday his forces had taken Shusha Azerbaijani Presidential Press Workplace/ Handout

Armenia on Monday announced the deaths of 44 separatist fighters while Azerbaijan has yet to launch information on its military deaths.

The Caucasus foes have each accused the other of targeting civilian locations and the United Nations recently decried indiscriminate attacks that could total up to “war crimes”.

The clashes have actually forced thousands to leave their homes leaving the main city in the challenged region, Stepanakert, a ghost town devastated after weeks of shelling.

Aliyev declared in a tweet on Monday that his forces had actually recorded 23 populated settlements in the contested territory, declaring “Karabakh is Azerbaijan!”

The longstanding ex-Soviet rivals have left 3 current ceasefire agreements brokered by the United States, Russia and France in tatters.

The three nations co-chair the “Minsk Group” that helped broker a truce between the ex-Soviet competitors in 1994 however has stopped working to moderate a long lasting resolution to the long-simmering territorial conflict.

Diplomats appeared to ramp up efforts over the weekend as battling intensified near Shusha, with Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking Saturday to Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Emmanuel Macron of France.

Turkey is a crucial ally of Azerbaijan and Erdogan congratulated Baku after its claim of retaking Shusha, calling it “a sign that the liberation of the remainder of the occupied territories is near”.

Turkish involvement would be key to any arrangement to stop the combating and there were reports Sunday of a strategy to concur a ceasefire and deploy Russian and Turkish peacekeepers to Nagorno-Karabakh.

Russia has said it would just intervene if combating reached Armenian soil, after Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan officially asked Putin to begin “immediate” assessments on security help.

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