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Azerbaijan says Armenia violated ceasefire 123 times

May 18, 2016, 10:57 UTC+3 BAKU

According to the country's defense ministry, the Azerbaijani army positions along the border between the two countries and around the Nagorno-Karabakh area came under fire

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© Vahan Stepanyan/PAN Photo via AP, file

BAKU, May 18. /TASS/. The Armenian armed forces over the past 24 hours have "123 times violated the ceasefire regime at various sectors of the front, using, among others, 60-mm mortars," the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.

According to the ministry, the Azerbaijani army positions located in settlements and at the heights along the border between the two countries and around the Nagorno-Karabakh area came under fire. "In accordance with the operational situation, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces carried out 126 fire attacks on the enemy positions and trench lines," the ministry said.

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. On April 5, Russia mediated a meeting between Colonel-General Nadjmeddin Sadykov, the chief of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces General Staff, and Colonel-General Yuri Khachaturov, the chief of the Armenian Armed Forces General Staff, that took place in Moscow.

The sides agreed to cease the hostilities on the line disengaging the Azerbaijani and Armenian troops in Nagorno-Karabakh. The defense ministries of Azerbaijan and Armenia announced a ceasefire on the contact line as of 12:00 (11:00 Moscow time) the same day. Ever since, the parties occasionally report brief exchanges of fire at the contact line.

The participants in the Vienna talks on Nagorno-Karabakh on May 16 that also involved the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents, with mediation of the foreign ministers of the countries co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Russia, the United States, France) reach an agreement on observing the ceasefire in the region in the format of the 1994-1995 agreements. In addition, the conflict sides agreed to complete as soon as possible the work on the OSCE mechanism for investigating incidents at the line of engagement of the conflict sides.

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said on Tuesday he was satisfied with the results of his Monday’s meeting in Vienna with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilkham Aliyev that was dedicated to the problems of Nagorno-Karabakh settlement. "Our task at the meeting was to see whether the settlement talks have really reached a dead end and there is no other way out than warfare or whether we can still solve the problem without much pain. It is important that the Minsk Group co-chair make sure that our goal is not in preserving the status quo and bogging down in the endless warfare." Sargsyan said that the Azerbaijani president had pledged that neither he nor his country seek to solve the problem by military means. "It is good but is barely credible as we have heard it many times but is fact the agreements have not been observed for many years," he said.

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.

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