Armenia accused Azerbaijan on Sunday of violating the “humanitarian armistice” in the disputed Nagorno Karabakh region, by firing artillery shells and rockets.
“The enemy fired artillery shells in the northern direction from 00:04 to 02.45 (20.04 to 22.45 GMT) and fired missiles in the southern direction from 02.20 GMT), the Armenian Ministry of Defense spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan said on Twitter. To 02,45”.
There was no immediate response from Azerbaijan.
A week after the announcement of a ceasefire agreement that had not been implemented between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the Nagorno Karabakh region, a new “humanitarian truce” came into effect on Saturday midnight local time (20:00 GMT) between the parties to the conflict to put an end to the bloody escalation.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a previous statement, “The Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan have agreed to a humanitarian armistice as of October 18 at midnight local time”.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry confirmed the move in a similar statement.
And the resumption of fighting three weeks ago led to the deaths of hundreds, and the conflict witnessed a new escalation on Saturday after a first failed ceasefire attempt that took place a week ago under the auspices of Moscow.
On Saturday, Azerbaijan vowed to “take revenge” for the killing of 13 civilians in night bombing targeting the city of Ganja, the second city in the country, in a new escalation of the conflict.
The announcement of the truce came after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke at night with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts, stressing the “necessity of strict adherence” to the ceasefire agreement agreed upon in Moscow on Saturday, according to a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
For his part, French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed Saturday evening the humanitarian truce, which came “following a French mediation that took place in recent days and last hours in coordination with the two co-presidents of the Minsk Group”.
On Saturday, the bombing included Ganja, the second most populated city in Azerbaijan, and the Azerbaijani strikes targeted the capital of the separatists, Stepanakert and the city of Shusha, whose inhabitants have fled most since the outbreak of the fighting on September 27th.
Dozens of rescue workers conducted search operations on survivors, and collected body parts and put them in black bags designated for the purpose.
Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Nagorno Karabakh region, which has an Armenian majority, broke away from the Turkic-speaking Azerbaijan, which led to a war that left 30,000 people dead in the 1990s.
The battles currently underway are the most dangerous since the ceasefire declared in 1994.
In Ganja, journalists at Agence France-Presse saw destroyed homes as a result of shelling targeting sleeping residents around 3:00 am local time (23:00 GMT), killing “13 civilians, including children, and wounding more than 45 others,” according to what was announced prosecutor.
“We will take revenge on the battlefield,” Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in a Saturday speech.
He described his separatist enemies as “dogs” and Armenia that supports them as “fascist”.
Turkey accused Armenia of committing “war crimes”.
For its part, the European Union condemned these strikes and called once again “all parties to stop targeting civilians”.
In Ganja, residents were crying as they fled the scene at night, some of them were still wearing their pajamas, according to AFP journalists.
Ganja, which has a population of 300,000, has been repeatedly targeted since the start of the conflict, especially on Sunday when a missile landed in it, killing 10 people.
The Armenian separatists confirmed Saturday that the city includes “legitimate targets”: an air base, a brigade command, special forces, the Azerbaijani defense operations center, army fuel depots and ammunition factories.
They also accused Azerbaijan of targeting civilian infrastructure in Karabakh at night, which requires a response.
AFP journalists reported that explosions shook Stepanakert at around 22:00, 04:30 and 04:30 hours.
A strike destroyed part of the roof of a shopping mall and blew out windows in shops and an apartment building.
“What happened here is illogical,” says Gayan Garibian, a 45-year-old Armenian who was sleeping in a shelter while her husband was at the front.
How can the international community be so indifferent!”
On the front, battles continue, too.
On Saturday morning, Aliyev announced the control of new lands, especially Fizuli, “the city occupied for thirty years by wild beasts”.
This region is one of the seven regions of Azerbaijan that the separatists seized in the 1990s to form a protection shield for the Nagorno Karabakh region.
On the ground, Azerbaijan has made progress in recent weeks without being able to win a decisive battle.
Baku does not announce the losses it incurs as a result of the conflict, as it does not publish any military, material or human toll.
For their part, the separatists say they have killed thousands of soldiers and admit that they were forced to retreat, but they assert “control of the situation”.
And they officially announced that they had lost about 700 personnel, while half of the population of 140,000 had been displaced.
In addition to the fear of a potential humanitarian crisis, there are fears of internationalizing the conflict, as Turkey provides support to Azerbaijan, while Armenia, which supports the separatists financially, politically and militarily, has a military alliance with Russia.