Armenia accuses Azerbaijan of another ceasefire violation

By Mark Dovich

Armenia’s Defense Ministry reported another ceasefire violation by Azerbaijan Friday morning, taking the total number of alleged violations by both sides this week to four. Armenia has officially reported one soldier wounded in the alleged shoot-outs.

“On September 23, around 7:40 a.m., units of Azerbaijan’s Armed Forces again violated the ceasefire regime, opening fire using various caliber rifles in the direction of Armenian combat positions” on the eastern part of the border, Armenia’s Defense Ministry said.

“The enemy’s fire was silenced by retaliatory actions. There are no losses on the Armenian side,” it added.

Armenia’s Defense Ministry reported similar incidents Tuesday and Wednesday evening, saying one soldier was injured in Wednesday’s alleged shoot-out. A ministry spokesperson confirmed the soldier’s injuries are not life-threatening.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry reported that “starting from 11:45 p.m. on September 22 to 8:30 a.m. on September 23, units of the Armenian armed forces…using various caliber weapons periodically subjected to fire the Azerbaijani army’s positions.” It did not report any casualties.

Each side has denied the other’s reports of ceasefire violations as “disinformation” and “false information.”

In another development Thursday, a spokesperson for Armenia’s Defense Ministry announced that two Armenian soldiers who had been left encircled by Azerbaijani forces after last week’s ceasefire came into effect had been freed.

“We successfully extracted these people, who were besieged for nine days,” he said. He did not elaborate.

These are the first accusations of breaking the fragile ceasefire that came into effect last Wednesday to end two days of fierce fighting in parts of eastern and southern Armenia. The United States played a key role in brokering the ceasefire, Armenian officials have suggested.

Azerbaijan launched large-scale attacks on Armenia proper last Tuesday, shelling three dozen municipalities, including major population centers, in an unprecedented escalation in hostilities.

The ceasefire left Azerbaijani forces in control of roughly 50 square kilometers of territory within Armenia, according to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. That is an area equal to more than 9,300 American football fields.

The two days of heavy clashes left nearly 300 people killed or missing and almost 600 people injured, including civilians, according to official figures from both sides. Armenia has also reported 20 soldiers taken by Azerbaijan as prisoners of war.

The combined losses make last week the bloodiest in the region, by far, since the outbreak of the war in and around Karabakh (Artsakh) nearly two years ago․

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