Stepanakert: Despite new calls from world leaders to end the fighting in the disputed Nagorny Karabakh region, heavy shelling continued between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces on Thursday.
In Stepanakert, the capital of the separated province, the sirens sounded and there were about two explosions at midnight. Residents said the city was attacked by drones.
Ever since Armenia Province separated from Azerbaijan and the Soviet Union disintegrated, the hostile Caucasus countries have been involved in bitter fighting in the Karabakh region.
Over the years, the most intense conflict between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in the Separation Zone ignited on Sunday and confirmed that the fighting had spread to the fifth day, with the death toll approaching 130.
The Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan stated on Thursday that its troops “fired on Armenian positions in the occupied territories” all night.
Separatist officials in Karabakh called the situation on the frontline “tensed” overnight and said the two sides exchanged fire.
“The enemy tried to reorganize its forces, but the Armenian forces suppressed all these attempts.”
The two sides claimed to have caused heavy losses to the enemy forces and ignored repeated calls from international leaders to stop fighting, which threatened to absorb regional powers such as Turkey and Russia.
Yerevan joined the military alliance of the former Soviet Union led by Moscow and accused Turkey of sending mercenaries from northern Syria to support the Azerbaijani army in the Karabakh conflict.
It also claimed earlier this week that a Turkish F-16 flying plane supporting Baku’s forces shot down an Armenian SU-25 fighter jet, but Ankara and Baku denied this.
Call for a ceasefire
Moscow has repeatedly called for an end to the fighting and offered to host negotiations on Wednesday.
It also stated that it is concerned that members of illegal fighting groups, including Syria and Libya, are being sent to fight.
The confirmed death toll has risen to 127, including civilians, and the two sides claimed to have caused heavy losses to each other.
Armenia recorded the deaths of 104 soldiers and 23 civilians.
Azerbaijan has not yet acknowledged any military casualties, but AFP reporters witnessed the funeral of a soldier who was killed in the conflict in the southern region of Beyalagan.
Both Armenian Prime Minister Nikolai Passingyan and Azerbaijani leader Ilyam Aliyev rejected the idea of holding talks, even if they called for an end to the fighting.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron issued their latest call in a telephone conversation late Wednesday, calling for a complete cessation of the fighting in Karabakh and saying that they are ready to step up diplomatic efforts to help Resolve conflicts.
Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan, which sparked a war in the early 1990s that claimed 30,000 lives, but no country, including Armenia, still considered it independent.
Armenia and Karabakh declared martial law and military mobilization on Sunday, while Azerbaijan imposed military rule and curfews in large cities.
Since the ceasefire agreement was reached in 1994, negotiations to resolve the conflict have basically stalled.
France, Russia and the United States mediate their peace efforts as the “Minsk Group”, but the last attempt to reach a peace agreement failed in 2010.