Turkey being blamed for Nagorno-Karabakh fighting as battles rage on

Edited By: Gravitas desk WION
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Oct 06, 2020, 10:22 PM(IST)

Clash between Armenia and Azerbaijan Photograph:( Reuters )

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Turkey has denied involvement in the fighting in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountain enclave that belongs to Azerbaijan under international law but is governed by ethnic Armenians, and has dismissed accusations that it sent mercenaries to the area.

Turkey's encouragement of Azerbaijan is being blamed for the fresh outbreak of fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said Tuesday, "Without Turkey's active engagement this would not have begun. The decision to unleash a war was motivated by Turkey's full support."

Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad has also accused Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan of being the main instigator in the deadliest fighting between Armenian and Azeri forces for more than 25 years.

The clashes in the South Caucasus entered a 10th day on Tuesday.

Assad also said militants from Syria were being deployed to the conflict area.

Turkey has denied involvement in the fighting in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountain enclave that belongs to Azerbaijan under international law but is governed by ethnic Armenians, and has dismissed accusations that it sent mercenaries to the area.

The accusations were first levelled by French President Emmanuel Macron. He said that Turkey had sent Syrian jihadists to fight in the conflict.

Assad offered no evidence for his allegation. Ankara, which backs rebels trying to oust him, did not respond immediately but has described similar accusations as part of attempts by Armenia to create "dark propaganda" about Turkey.

Almost 300 people have been reported killed in the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh that erupted on September 27, increasing concern that a wider conflict could be triggered. 

Turkey has strongly backed Azerbaijan, and Russia has a defence pact with Armenia.

The head of Russia's SVR Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergei Naryshkin, underlined Moscow's concerns by warning that Nagorno-Karabakh could become a launch pad for "international terrorist organisations" to enter Russia and other countries.

The Kremlin later issued a new appeal for all sides in the conflict to halt fighting immediately.

In the latest fighting, Armenia said Azerbaijan launched a large-scale attack with tanks and artillery on a southern part of the contact line that divides ethnic Armenian and Azeri forces.

Nagorno-Karabakh said four cluster bombs had exploded in the centre of Stepanakert, its main administrative centre, but gave no further details.

The conflict over the tiny enclave is closely watched abroad, partly because of Nagorno-Karabakh's proximity to pipelines that carry Azeri gas and oil to Europe.

Azerbaijan says Azeri cities outside Nagorno-Karabakh have been struck, and both sides say the other has hit civilian areas. Each denies targeting civilians.

Nagorno-Karabakh said 244 of its servicemen and 19 civilians had been killed since Sept. 27 and many more have been wounded.

The Azeri prosecutor's office said 27 Azeri civilians had been killed in the renewed fighting. Azerbaijan has not disclosed information about its military casualties.

Ceasefire appeals led by the United States, Russia and France, which have for years led mediation efforts, have failed to halt the fighting. Canada and Britain issued another appeal for a ceasefire in London on Tuesday.

Armenia has said it will engage with Washington, Paris and Moscow on peace moves. Azerbaijan says Armenia must set a timetable to withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding Azeri territories, and wants Turkey involved in peace efforts.

(with inputs)

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