At least 99 killed in worst Azerbaijan-Armenia clashes in years


Fighting erupted between Azerbaijan and Armenia on Tuesday, killing at least 99 troops in the deadliest clash between the Caucasus neighbors since they fought a war two years ago.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said at least 49 of his country’s soldiers were killed in the fighting.

Hours later, Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said in a statement that the country had lost 50 troops.

At Armenia’s request, the United Nations Security Council agreed to hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss the issue.

The intensity of the clashes has subsided but Azerbaijan’s attacks continue, Pashinyan told lawmakers, saying Armenia had appealed to Russia and other allies for help.

He spoke after the Russian Foreign Ministry urged Azerbaijan and Armenia to abide “in full” by a 9am cease-fire that Moscow said it had negotiated between the sides.

But that cease-fire appeared not to have held.

“What we want to see is the hostilities stop,” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said. “The Russians apparently brokered a cease-fire overnight that was almost immediately broken. Obviously, we want to see there be a cease-fire that can stay in effect.”

Both sides blamed the other for starting the latest fighting. Armenia’s Defence Ministry said Azerbaijani forces shelled towns in southern and central Armenia and also used drones in attacks.

Azerbaijan’s Defence Ministry denied it started the attacks and said its forces responded to “large-scale Armenian provocation.” It said earlier on Tuesday that the fighting started after Armenian sabotage groups placed landmines on Azerbaijani army supply lines along the border.

The fighting is the worst since thousands died on both sides in a 44-day war over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh that was halted in November 2020 when Russian President Vladimir Putin brokered a truce.

The tensions have flared as Putin faces setbacks in his invasion of Ukraine, with Russian troops retreating under pressure from a Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Pashinyan held phone calls with Putin, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and French President Emmanuel Macron, the premier’s office said.

The US is deeply concerned about the clashes “including reported strikes against settlements and civilian infrastructure inside Armenia” and urges an immediate halt to hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Blinken said in a statement.

Despite the truce that Putin brokered, Azerbaijan and Armenia have yet to reach a peace agreement, even as the two sides have held talks to try to delineate their common border and open up transport routes.

Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met Aug 31 in Brussels as part of European Union efforts to reach a deal.

Aliyev has demanded the establishment of a corridor through southern Armenia to an Azerbaijani exclave bordering Turkey. That’s been rejected by Pashinyan, who’s said the truce accord only provides for the opening of transport links between the two states, which he’s prepared to implement.

“We are not going to provide anyone with a corridor through the territory of Armenia,” Pashinyan told lawmakers. “We are ready for a peaceful resolution and have always been ready.”




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