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YEREVAN, April 3. /TASS/. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is ready to act as a mediator between the parties following the recent escalation in the zone of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Patrick Vial, head of ICRC operations for the region, said on Sunday.
"We are ready to assist and support those affected by the recent escalation of fighting, as well as to act as a neutral intermediary between the parties", he said. "All sides to the conflict have an obligation to respect the rules of international humanitarian law. As per these rules, the parties must ensure that civilian life and infrastructure is protected."
The International Committee of the Red Cross "is concerned about the humanitarian impact of fighting along the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh, which seriously deteriorated on 2 April 2016," he said, adding that casualties among civilians have been reported on both sides.
The ICRC has been present in Nagorno-Karabakh since 1992. "Through the delegations in Baku and Yerevan and the mission in Nagorno-Karabakh, the ICRC supports communities living along the line of contact and international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, " the ICRC said. "In addition, the ICRC works to clarify the fate of missing persons and help their families, visits detainees and acts as a neutral intermediary to facilitate transfer and repatriation of persons released on both sides of the border and the line of contact."
On Saturday, the parties to the Karabakh conflict accused each other of violating truce along the contact line. The claims came from defense authorities of Armenia and of Azerbaijan.
The conflict between neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory that had been part of Azerbaijan before the Soviet Union break-up but was mainly populated by Armenians, broke out in the late 1980s.
In 1991-1994, the confrontation spilled over into large-scale military action for control over the enclave and some adjacent territories. Thousands left their homes on both sides in a conflict that killed 30,000. A truce was called between Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh republic on one side and Azerbaijan on the other in May 1994.