Armenian soldiers stand at a checkpoint near village of Charektar at a new border with Kalbajar district turned over to Azerbaijan, November 25, 2020

Azerbaijani Army Attacks Villages in Hadrut

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YEREVAN (Combined Sources) — The situation near the two villages in the Hadrut region of Karabakh, where the ceasefire had been violated on December 11, is back to normal, said the commander of the Russian military contingent of peacekeeping forces in the zone of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Lieutenant General Rustam Muradov.

According to him, the attack was stopped by the actions of the Russian peacekeeping contingent, RIA Novosti reported.

Russian peacekeepers are constantly monitoring the situation and maintain interaction with representatives of the Armenian and Azerbaijani sides, he added.

As a result of the fighting, which lasted several hours, the enemy managed to enter the village of Hin Tagher, and also come close to the village of Khtsaberd.

According to Armenia’s Defense Ministry, the Azerbaijani army used heavy artillery to capture one of those villages and approach the other on Saturday. A ministry statement said six Karabakh Armenian soldiers were wounded as a result.

It said that Russian peacekeepers rushed to the area late on Saturday to try to stop the hostilities. Their negotiations with local Armenian and Azerbaijani commanders are still going on, added the statement issued at around noon.

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The Armenian Foreign Ministry said early in the afternoon that Azerbaijani troops also took “provocative actions” around two other Hadrut villages remaining under Karabakh Armenian control. It alleged a “blatant violation” of the ceasefire agreement that stopped the six-week war on November 10.

Azerbaijani denied violating the ceasefire, in a joint statement issued by its Defense Ministry and State Security Service. It said that the Azerbaijani army stationed in the Hadrut district launched a “counterterrorist operation” after one of their soldiers was killed on Tuesday.

The statement claimed that the Russian peacekeepers arrived in the area to try to “evacuate” Armenian troops remaining there. It said that the latter refused to pull out and attacked Azerbaijani forces.

The Armenian Defense Ministry asserted, however, the peacekeepers’ talks with the warring sides are aimed at getting them to “return to their previous positions.” It also said Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutiunyan discussed the situation on the ground with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu during a visit to Moscow that began on Saturday.

The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed truce violations in the Hadrut area but did not blame either side for the escalation or say what the Russian peacekeepers are trying to do there. The peacekeepers have had no observation posts in that area until now.

The Karabakh Defense Army said earlier in the day that three of its soldiers were wounded while thwarting an Azerbaijani attempt to attack one of its frontline positions late on Friday. It denied Azerbaijani media reports saying that Armenian forces resorted to an “armed provocation” in Hadrut that left one Azerbaijani soldier wounded.

A senior Karabakh official, Davit Babayan, likewise claimed that Azerbaijani forces tried to advance at a southern section of the Karabakh “line of contact” but were repelled.

These actions of Azerbaijan, which are evidently a continuation of the aggressive policy of Baku and an attempt to expand the occupation zone in Artsakh, as well as the seizure of a significant part of Artsakh and ethnic cleansing in general, should receive the strongest condemnation by the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group and the international community as a whole.

The Republic of Artsakh, for its part, will continue to make consistent efforts aimed at the international recognition of Artsakh in order to achieve a peaceful settlement of the Azerbaijan-Karabakh conflict, to ensure the de-occupation of the republic’s territory and the return of the population to the places of their former residence.”

(RFE/RL and Reuters contributed to this report.)

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