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BAKU, April 5. /TASS/. The Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan denied on Tuesday the statement by the Armenian Defense Ministry alleging that the Azerbaijani armed forces used the Smerch multiple launch rocket systems in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.
"The armed forces of Azerbaijan have the Smerch MLRS systems, but they have not been used so far," the ministry spokesman Vagif Dyargyakhly says.
According to the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry’s press service, sixteen Azerbaijani servicemen were killed in the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh over the past two days.
The Azerbaijani side also claims that over the last 24 hours, the Armenian side lost 70 servicemen and up to 20 units of military equipment, the press service said. Meanwhile, the Armenian side says 20 people were killed in Nagorno-Karabakh since the start of the escalation, including four peaceful civilians.
The defense ministry noted that "tensions persisted along the front line last night." "The Armenian side continues to shell settlements located near the contact line," the ministry added.
The situation along the line of engagement of the conflicting parties in Nagorno-Karabakh deteriorated dramatically overnight to April 2. Following fierce armed clashes at the contact line, the parties to the conflict accused each other of violating truce.
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. About a mission people became refugees. A truce was called between Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh republic on one side and Azerbaijan on the other in May 1994.