A ceasefire between Azerbaijan and Armenia was in tatters hours after coming into effect, with both sides trading accusations of violations on Sunday.
It’s the second truce brokered by Russia this month that has failed to stop the violence. Hundreds of people have been killed since the worst fighting in decades erupted between the countries over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh three weeks ago.
Armenian forces said 673 soldiers and 36 civilians have died since the fighting erupted on September 27. Azerbaijan hasn’t disclosed figures on military deaths and says 47 civilians have been killed.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said Armenia “grossly” violated the ceasefire that came into force at midnight, shelling Azeri positions in the Cabrayil district south
Armenia’s Defense Ministry Spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan said Azerbaijani armed forces violated the truce with an artillery barrage south of the enclave.
Azerbaijan is ready to hand over bodies of some Armenian soldiers at the state border in Tovuz district, it told the International Red Cross in a statement. Armenia’s foreign ministry said that Azerbaijan had rejected a Red Cross offer to withdraw wounded soldiers from the battlefield, a claim that Azerbaijan denied.
A handover of bodies and transfer of the wounded
is an “urgent humanitarian task,” Zara Amatuni, a spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Armenia said, “but security guarantees should be in place for the operation to be implemented.”
Armenians took control of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts of Azerbaijan during a war amid the collapse of the Soviet Union. That initial conflict was halted by a Russia-brokered truce in 1994. Mediation efforts since then by Russia, France and the US have failed to resolve the dispute.