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Fresh Armenia-Azerbaijan Fighting Erupts, Multiple Casualties, As Yerevan Urges Russian Military Help

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Fresh fighting has erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan along the disputed border region, one year after a Russia-brokered ceasefire agreement halted the deadly forty-four-day-long war over historically contested Nagorno-Karabakh. 

Each side is blaming the other for Tuesday's new fighting, which left multiple dead and wounded, according to the Armenian side. "There are fatalities and wounded among Armenian troops as a result of fighting that erupted following an attack by Azerbaijani forces," Armenia’s defense ministry said.

The statement said that casualties are still being counted and verified, but it confirmed Armenian national forces had "lost control of two military positions." It added: "The data on Armenian casualties is being clarified. At the moment, we can say definitely that four people were injured."

Heavy artillery was reportedly used in the clashes, following a year of relative calm at the border, and the presence of Russian peace-keeping forces. Azerbaijan is meanwhile disputing Armenia's version of events, saying its outposts were attacked first. "Armenia’s armed forces committed a large-scale provocation at the state border at 11:00 am (GMT 0700) on Tuesday," its Defense Ministry said.

Azerbaijani troops "stopped the enemy’s advance, surrounded and detained Armenian servicemen," the statement continued.

The brief fighting has the potential to ignited a larger flare-up as tensions remain high. Based on the statement, it appears the Azeri side may have taken Armenian troops captive during Tuesday's firefight.

Subsequent social media videos, though unconfirmed, appeared to show up to a dozen Armenian servicemen being held in captivity.

Last year's war thrust the long-simmering dispute over a sizeable border zone into the international spotlight. The end result was disastrous from Armenia's perspective, as the country had to give up a significant amount of territory in Nagorno-Karabakh and remove its forces (and some of the civilian population).

Like with last year's fighting, Yerevan is now calling on Russia's help to push back Azeri forces. The secretary of the Armenian Security Council, Armen Grigoryan, urged the following in a Tuesday statement

"As the attack [by Azerbaijan] was against Armenia's sovereign territory, we are requesting that Russia defend Armenia's territorial integrity within the framework of the 1997 agreement. This a verbal request that will be made in writing."

Despite Russia having a military base on Armenian soil, and a defense pact with the small Caucasus nation, the Kremlin has shown a reluctance to get involved other than for peace-keeping purposes. At the same time Turkey has been an active backer of Azerbaijan, even at one point sending Turkish-backed Syrian mercenaries to bolster Azeri forces. 


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