Azerbaijan says 71 soldiers killed in Armenia border clashes


Baku lists the death toll but does not comment on the reported ceasefire agreement to end days of heavy fighting between rivals.

Azerbaijan says 71 of its troops were killed this week during border clashes with Armenia, which marked the worst fighting between rival neighbors since their 2020 war over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The ministry’s update on Thursday came after a senior Armenian official said the two sides had negotiated a ceasefire, which took effect Wednesday at 8 p.m. local time (16:00 GMT).

The Armenian defense ministry said the situation along the common border was calm after the deal and no ceasefire violations were reported. There was no immediate comment from Azerbaijan on the reported agreement.

An earlier Russian-brokered ceasefire on Tuesday quickly backfired.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have repeatedly blamed the fighting this week, which first broke out in the early hours of Tuesday morning and took place in areas outside Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave that lies in Azerbaijan but is mainly populated by ethnic Armenians.

Armenian authorities have accused Baku of unleashing a number of unprovoked cross-border attacks, while Azerbaijani officials claim their forces were responding to initial Armenian “provocations”.

Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify battlefield reports from either side.

Simmering tensions

The recent fighting has fueled fears of another full-fledged war between the ex-Soviet states embroiled in a decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

The two countries fought a war over the disputed region in late 2020, killing more than 6,500 people in just over six weeks.

The conflict saw Azerbaijan successfully reclaim parts of territory in and around Nagorno-Karabakh that had been controlled by ethnic Armenian forces supported by Yerevan since an earlier war in the area ended in 1994.

Russia, a regional power broker, oversaw a ceasefire to end the fighting in November 2020 and deployed nearly 2,000 peacekeepers to the region as part of the agreement. Armenia this week again appealed to Moscow for help after the latest clashes.

Pashinyan, meanwhile, has said his government is willing to recognize Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity in a future peace treaty, provided it relinquishes control of areas in Armenia that its forces have captured.

“We want to sign a document, for which many people will criticize and denounce us and call us traitors, and they may even decide to remove us from office, but we would be grateful if Armenia gets lasting peace and security as a result of it.” , the prime minister told Armenian lawmakers on Wednesday.

But some in the opposition saw the statement as a sign of Pashinyan’s willingness to yield to Azerbaijan’s demands and recognize Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Thousands of angry protesters quickly descended on government headquarters, accusing Pashinyan of treason and demanding that he resign. Protests were also held in other Armenian cities.

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