Armenian and Azeri forces deploy artillery in clashes over Nagorno-Karabakh

Armenian and Azeri forces deploy artillery in clashes over Nagorno-Karabakh
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(Reuters) – Armenian and Azeri forces deployed heavy artillery on Tuesday in the latest fighting over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, they both said.

The Azeri defence ministry said the opposing forces attempted to recover lost ground by launching counter-attacks in the directions of Fizuli, Jabrayil, Agdere, and Terter.

The ministry said in a statement that in the morning there was fighting around Fizuli city and the Armenian army shelled the Dashkesan region on the border between the two countries, miles away from Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenia denied those reports but reported fighting throughout the night and said that Nagorno-Karabakh’s army repelled attacks in several directions along the line of contact.

Nagorno-Karabakh is a breakaway region that is inside Azerbaijan but is run by ethnic Armenians and is supported by Armenia. It broke away from Azerbaijan in a war in the 1990s, but is not recognised by any country as an independent republic.

The clashes between Armenian and Azeri forces over Nagorno-Karabakh, the heaviest since 2016, have reignited concern over stability in the South Caucasus region, a corridor for pipelines carrying oil and gas to world markets.

Both sides accuse each other of using heavy artillery in this week’s clashes in which dozens of people had been killed and hundreds wounded.

Azerbaijan on Sunday reported about the death of five members of a family, while Armenia said on Tuesday that a 9-year-old girl was killed in shelling, while her mother and a brother were wounded.

A mother and her child were killed in Martuni on Sunday, the defence ministry of Nagorno-Karabakh said.

Armenia is considering a possibility of concluding a military-political alliance with Nagorno-Karabakh, Lilit Makunts, an MP from the ruling My Step alliance, wrote on her Facebook page.

Any move to all-out war could drag in major regional powers Russia and Turkey. Moscow has a defence alliance with Armenia, which provides vital support to the enclave and is its lifeline to the outside world, while Ankara backs its own ethnic Turkic kin in Azerbaijan.

Reporting by Nailia Bagirova and Nvard Hovhannisyan; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov and Margarita Antidze; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Robert Birsel

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