Armenia and Azerbaijan allege attacks outside Nagorno-Karabakh

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Turkey denies claim it shot down Armenian jet, as UN announces emergency talks

Michael Safi and agencies  –  The Guardian

An Azerbaijani army serviceman during a military operation on 28 September at the contact line of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Photograph: Azerbaijan Defence Ministry/EPA

Fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan threatened to escalate as both sides accused each other of targeting border areas outside Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenian officials claimed Turkey was deploying fighter jets in the conflict.

Armenia’s defence ministry said one of its Sukhoi Su-25 jets was shot down on Tuesday morning by a Turkish F-16 that had taken off from the Ganja airbase in Azerbaijan. “Unfortunately, the pilot died heroically,” the ministry said.

Turkish officials quickly dismissed the claim as false and told Bloomberg it was a “cheap propaganda stunt”.

Armenia’s foreign ministry said earlier that one civilian was killed in Vardenis, a town inside Armenian territory and miles from Nagorno-Karabakh, when Azerbaijani forces shelled “civilian-military infrastructure” in the area. It also claimed a civilian bus in the town was set on fire by an unmanned drone.

Azerbaijan’s defence ministry had earlier accused Armenia of shelling the Dashkasan region, also north of Nagorno-Karabakh – a claim the Armenian foreign ministry denied.

Amid fears that the ongoing fighting could spread to new fronts and draw in other regional actors, the UN security council announced it would hold emergency talks on Tuesday evening behind closed doors in New York. Belgium formally requested the session after France and Germany had led a push for it to be placed on the agenda.

As early as Sunday, Estonia, a non-permanent council member, had emphasised the need for talks over the outbreak of violence. Diplomats said Britain had also joined the European push for the talks, and a joint declaration could be issued at their conclusion, either by the entire council or just its European members if a full consensus could not be reached.

The fighting over the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh broke out on Sunday. Azerbaijan says 10 civilians have been killed and 30 wounded but has not said how many of troops have died. Armenia has released the names of 84 military fatalities.

Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by the Yerevan government since 1994 and the end of a separatist war.

The Azerbaijiani defence ministry said the fighting continued overnight and opposing forces had attempted to recover lost ground by launching counterattacks in the directions of Fuzuli, Cebrayil, Agdere and Terter.

The clashes have taken place in the middle of the annual UN general assembly and raised fears of a war between the two former Soviet republics.

There are concerns that a prolonged war could drag in Russia, which sells weapons to both countries but has a military alliance with Armenia. Iran, which has a sometimes fraught relationship with Azerbaijan, could also become involved.

 

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