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Armenia accuses Turkey of expansionist ambitions in Nagorno-Karabakh

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters that while ceasefire demands were “reasonable”, the international community should ask Armenia to withdraw from Azeri territory.

“Sadly no such call is being made,” he said.

A soldier steps into his car on the outskirts of Askeran, Nagorno-Karabakh, Although Armenia lost part of the town of Hadrut to Azeri forces this week, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh continue to fight for autonomy over the contested territory.

A soldier steps into his car on the outskirts of Askeran, Nagorno-Karabakh, Although Armenia lost part of the town of Hadrut to Azeri forces this week, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh continue to fight for autonomy over the contested territory.Credit:Getty Images

Influential Turkish politician Devlet Bahceli, whose party supports President Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP in parliament, took a more belligerent tone, telling Azerbaijan to secure Nagorno-Karabakh by “hitting Armenia over the head over and over again”.

Azerbaijan accused Armenia of “grossly violating the humanitarian truce”. Defence Ministry spokesman Vagif Dargiahly said Armenia was shelling the Azeri territories of Goranboy and Aghdam, as well as Terter. Azeri forces were not violating the truce, he added.

Armenian Defence Ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan denied the accusation. She said Azerbaijan had resumed military operations “supported by active artillery fire in the southern, northern, north-eastern and eastern directions”.

Nagorno-Karabakh lies in Azerbaijan but has been under control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since the end of a separatist war in 1994.

Nagorno-Karabakh lies in Azerbaijan but has been under control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since the end of a separatist war in 1994. Credit:AP

The fighting, which erupted on September 27,

is the worst since a 1991-94 war over Nagorno-Karabakh that killed about 30,000 people.

It is being closely watched abroad because of fears Russia and Turkey could get sucked in. Russia has a defence pact with Armenia, while Turkey is allied with Azerbaijan.

Nagorno-Karabakh officials said 532 servicemen had been killed so far, up 7 from Monday.

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Azerbaijan has reported 42 Azeri civilian deaths and 206 wounded. It has not disclosed military casualties.

The Minsk Group — a committee set up by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe security watchdog to help mediate in Nagorno-Karabakh — called on the Armenian and Azeri leaders to implement the ceasefire to prevent “catastrophic consequences for the region”.

The 11-member group is led by the United States, Russia and France. Turkey is also a member but not involved in the Nagorno-Karabakh talks, though it has said it wants to join them.

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Martin Schuepp, Eurasia regional director for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said his organisation was trying to facilitate handovers of detainees or dead bodies, but the security situation hindered the efforts.

With tens of thousands of people potentially needing help in coming months, the ICRC is appealing for another 9.2 million Swiss francs ($14 million) to fund humanitarian efforts.

The conflict is also worsening the spread of COVID-19, World Health Organisation spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told a United Nations briefing in Geneva. New cases doubled over the past two weeks in Armenia to 57,566 with 1032 deaths, and rose by 80 per cent in Azerbaijan which has recorded 42,381 cases in total and 682 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally.

Reuters

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