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Azerbaijani forces closed in on an important town in Nagorno-Karabakh



The Azerbaijani army was closed on Thursday in an important town in Nagorno-Karabakh after more than a month of intense fighting, while the top diplomats of Azerbaijan and Armenia prepared for other negotiations to try try to end their prolonged conflict over separatist territory.

Nagorno-Karabakh’s separatist leader, Arayik Harutyunyan, said the Azerbaijani army had reached within about three miles of the town’s strategic location of Shushi. He urged residents to mobilize all resources to fend off the attack.

“The controller of Shushi will control Nagorno-Karabakh,”

; Harutyunyan said in a video address from the town’s church, which was severely damaged by Azerbaijan’s shelling this month. “We have to realize that and join protecting Shushi. We have to reverse the situation ”.

Shushi is located about four miles south of the capital in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of, Stepanakert.

Nagorno-Karabakh is located in Azerbaijan but has been under the control of Armenian-backed Armenian forces since a war ended in 1994.

The most recent fighting began on September 27 and involved heavy artillery, rockets and drones, in one of the largest hostile escalations against the separatist area in part. posture century since the war ended. Hundreds, and possibly thousands, were killed in more than a month.

The separatist government in Nagorno-Karabakh on Thursday accused Azerbaijani forces of shelling on Stepanakert, Shushi and Martakert with multiple Smerch missile systems, a devastating weapon designed by the Soviet Union to wreak havoc on the areas. vast by explosives and cluster munitions. Martakert was also attacked by Azerbaijan aircraft, officials said.

The Azerbaijan Defense Ministry denied the use of the aircraft and accused Armenian shelling on the Terter, Goranboy and Barda regions of Azerbaijan. According to Hikmet Hajiyev, a foreign policy adviser to the Azerbaijan president, a civilian was killed in the Goranboy region.

The ministry also reported the downing of two Armenian Su-25 fighters, a statement denied by Armenian officials as “false information”.

According to Nagorno-Karabakh officials, 1,166 troops and 39 civilians have been killed so far in the clashes. The Azerbaijani authorities did not disclose their military losses, but said the fighting had left at least 90 civilians dead and 392 injured.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, according to information from Moscow, the death toll from fighting was nearly 5,000 people, significantly higher than the official report.

Conflicts broke out in the fifth week despite international peace calls and three attempts to establish a ceasefire. The latest US-mediated ceasefire agreement immediately flared after it went into effect on Monday, like the two previous ceasefire orders Russia had negotiated. The warring parties have repeatedly blamed each other for violations.

Russia, the United States and France co-chaired the so-called Minsk Group created by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to mediate in the conflict, but they made no progress.

The Minsk Group co-chairs were expected to meet with the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia in Geneva on Thursday, but negotiations were delayed until Friday and the prospects for a breakthrough looked blurred. dark.

Armenian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anna Naghdalyan said the change of date “has to do with the developing situation and logistics issues”, adding that negotiations on a permanent ceasefire and have Verifiable is the priority of Armenia.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev repeatedly criticized the Minsk Group for failing to achieve any results in three decades and affirmed that Azerbaijan has the right to reclaim its territory by force since international reconciliation failed.

Speaking on Thursday at an investor conference in Moscow, Putin said negotiating to resolve the decades-long conflict was extremely challenging.

“It’s a tight knot and there is no simple solution,” Putin said. “Each side has its own truth.”

Russia, which has a military base in Armenia and security arrangements to protect its allies, has taken a delicate diplomatic act while trying to maintain good relations with Azerbaijan and prevent the relationship. threats to Turkey.

In the wake of the latest escalation of hostility, Russia proposed a peace plan in which Azerbaijan would regain control of some of its regions outside of Nagorno-Karabakh which Armenian forces had captured in the wake war ended in 1994. In return, Nagorno-Karabakh would be guaranteed security. and a crippled Armenian blockade by Turkey and Azerbaijan will be lifted.

Armenia has resisted this plan.

The residents of Nagorno-Karabakh, whose homes have been damaged by shelling, also show little confidence in international peace efforts.

“Neither France nor Russia do anything. We were left alone, ”said Vovik Zakharian, a resident of Shushi, a town that has been under constant shelling.

Zakharian, 72, checked his apartment on Thursday after it was damaged during the morning strike.

“We will fight to the end,” he said. “We have to do our best.”




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