September 25, 2023

Clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces flared up Wednesday in the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh region, where three soldiers were killed.

Nagorno-Karabakh military officials said drone strikes carried out by Azerbaijani forces killed two of their soldiers and wounded 14 others.

Azerbaijan’s defense ministry said one of the country’s soldiers was killed in a “terrorist act” by “illegal Armenian military formations”.

The Azerbaijani military carried out a “retaliatory operation” in response, killing and injuring an unspecified number of “illegal Armenian fighters”.

Nagorno-Karabakh separatist leader Arayik Harutyunyan announced a partial military mobilization on Wednesday, further fueling tensions in the region.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a decades-long dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is inside Azerbaijan but has been under the control of Armenian-backed forces since a separatist war there ended in 1994.

A 2020 war in the region killed more than 6,600 people. After six weeks of heavy fighting, a peace deal brokered by Russia allowed Azerbaijan to regain control of large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas controlled by Armenian-backed separatists.

Moscow has sent about 2,000 troops it called peacekeepers to the region.

Officials in Armenia and Azerbaijan swapped blame for the renewed clashes on Wednesday. The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that it was Azerbaijan that violated the 2020 ceasefire.

Tensions have been building on the two nations’ shared border since May last year, when Armenia protested what it described as an incursion by Azerbaijani troops into its territory.

Azerbaijan insisted that its troops were deployed in areas where borders have not yet been demarcated.

Sporadic clashes have occurred in the last year.

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