A week after a first ceasefire, concluded but never respected, between Azerbaijan and Armenia in Nagorno Karabakh, a new “humanitarian truce” came into effect on Saturday at midnight local time. Yerevan accused Baku of having immediately raped her.
“The Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan have agreed on a humanitarian truce from October 18 at 00:00 local time,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry said Saturday evening. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry confirmed, in an identical statement.
But only a few hours later, Armenian Defense Ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan claimed on Twitter: “The enemy fired northbound artillery fire between 12:04 am and 2:45 am (10:04 pm and 12:45 am in Switzerland) and launched rockets south between 02:20 and 02:45 “. Azerbaijan did not immediately react.
The resumption of fighting three weeks ago left hundreds of people dead. After a first failed ceasefire attempt under the aegis of Moscow, the conflict escalated again on Saturday.
Azerbaijan has vowed to “avenge” the deaths of thirteen civilians, including children, who perished the night before in a night bombing of Gandja, the country’s second city. Many houses were destroyed by shelling around 3 a.m. local time (1 a.m. in Switzerland) which also left more than 45 injured, according to the attorney general.
The announcement comes as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke by telephone in the evening with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts. He insisted on “the need for strict compliance” with the cease-fire concluded last Saturday in Moscow, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.
French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed this truce, concluded “at the end of a French mediation conducted over the last days and hours in coordination with the co-presidents of the Minsk group” (France, Russia, United States). United). This ceasefire “must be unconditional and strictly respected by both parties,” added the Elysee.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev has called his separatist enemy Nagorny Karabakh and his godfather, Armenia, alternately “dogs” and “fascists”. His Turkish ally accused Armenia of “war crimes”. The EU for its part “deplored” these strikes, and once again called on “all parties to stop targeting civilians”.
The city of Gandja, about 300,000 inhabitants, has been struck several times since the start of the conflict, especially on Sunday when a missile had already killed ten people.
“Legitimate targets” in Gandja
The Armenian separatists noted Saturday for their part that Gandja shelters “legitimate targets”: air base, staff of a motorized brigade, special forces, operations center of the Azerbaijani defense, fuel depots and factories of ammunition.
They also accused Azerbaijan of having attacked civilian infrastructure in Nagorno Karabakh during the night, requiring a response. Stepanakert was indeed shaken by explosions, according to AFP. In particular, a strike destroyed part of the roof of a shopping center and, further on, the windows of shops and a residential building were shattered.
On the front lines, the fighting also continued. Ilham Aliev announced Saturday the capture of new territories, in particular Fizouli “city occupied for thirty years by wild animals”. This area forms one of the seven Azerbaijani districts which the separatists took control in the 1990s to form a protective glacis around the territory of Karabakh proper.
These bombings, as well as the fighting on the front line, bear witness to the powerlessness of the international community for three weeks. For a week, a humanitarian truce agreement negotiated under the aegis of Moscow has never been applied. Washington and Paris once again insisted on Friday evening on the need to stop hostilities.
Hundreds of dead
Azerbaijan has achieved territorial gains over the past three weeks without winning a decisive battle. Baku has so far not revealed the cost of the conflict, releasing no military, material or human toll.
The separatists claim to have killed thousands of men, admit having had to back down, but claim to “control the situation”. Officially, they lost around 700 men and half of the 140,000 inhabitants were displaced.