Azerbaijan strikes in Armenia: conflict escalates further

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It would be a first that could augur an escalation of the conflict in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh: Azerbaijan announced on Wednesday that it had hit missile launch sites on Armenian territory.

The Yerevan authorities confirmed the strikes on their soil but denied any intention to target civilian areas in Azerbaijan. However, Armenia “now reserves the right to target any military installation and any combat movement on Azeri territory. “

Nagorno-Karabakh is at the center of a conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan which does not date from yesterday. Mostly populated by Armenians, this territory seceded shortly before the breakup of the USSR, leading to a war that left 30,000 dead and hundreds of thousands of refugees from both camps in the 1990s.

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The Azeri army is gaining ground. Since the start of the violence, each camp has claimed to inflict serious setbacks on the other. However, Nagorno-Karabakh President Araïk Haroutiounian and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian admitted on Wednesday that separatist troops had retreated north and south of the front line. The Armenian army accused Azerbaijan of “seeking to expand the geography of the conflict by attacking the sovereign territory of Armenia”.

A cease-fire remained a dead letter. For the fifth day in a row, and despite strong appeals from both Moscow and the West, the ceasefire negotiated in Russia supposed to be in force since Saturday has remained a dead letter.

The belligerents reject the responsibility for these new hostilities which left more than 600 dead, according to partial assessments which could be much heavier, Azerbaijan not communicating the deaths among its troops. On the separatist side, the capital Stepanakert was for its part calm on Wednesday. Before the cease-fire signed on Saturday, this city of some 55,000 inhabitants was affected by regular bombardments which have scared the majority of the inhabitants.

Putin and Erdogan call for “united efforts” for peace. During their first telephone interview since the resumption of these hostilities at the end of September, Russian Vladimir Poutine and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed on “the urgent need for solidarity efforts to put an end to the bloodshed as quickly as possible” in this conflict, according to the Russian presidency.

Turkey, which has sided with Azerbaijan since the start of the last clashes on September 27, and Russia, which is engaged in a military alliance with Armenia, are the arbiters of the conflict. In addition to a potential humanitarian crisis, the fear of the international community is to see this conflict internationalize, Turkey is also accused of having sent pro-Turkish fighters from Syria to fight alongside the Azerbaijanis. On Wednesday, President Erdogan denied their presence.

Ten tons of humanitarian aid left Lyon. A plane loaded with ten tons of humanitarian aid intended for the affected Armenians took off Wednesday from Lyon at the initiative of the Coordination Council of Armenian Organizations in France (CCAF). The load consists of medicines and medical equipment as well as survival equipment (generators, sleeping bags, survival blankets, warm clothes). These are exclusively donations collected by the CCAF Center, with the help of volunteers.

The Auvergne Rhône-Alpes region financed the flight and could vote this week for the financing of a second which could take off in the coming weeks. According to the CCAF Center, two other aircraft filled with humanitarian aid have left in recent days for Yerevan.

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