Azerbaijan accused of ethnic cleansing as horrifying footage appears to show elderly Armenian man being beheaded by soldiers

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https://www.rt.com

Shocking video purporting to show Azerbaijani troops executing a civilian has gone viral online, with Armenia alleging that it’s just one of a series of war crimes committed during the recent Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

In the unauthenticated footage, shared widely by social media users, a man reported to be an elderly ethnic Armenian living in the contested province is seen pinned down by a man in army fatigues, before his throat is cut.

The incident comes as Armenia’s foreign minister used a meeting with his French counterpart in the capital, Yerevan, to allege that “ethnic cleansing” was taking place in Nagorno-Karabakh, according to reports by Russian news agency Sputnik. He also warned that the terms of the current ceasefire may not hold, saying that “by launching military aggression against the self-determination of [the province], Azerbaijan and Turkey have violated their international obligations. Azerbaijan has also violated its obligations in the peace process.”

In October, another viral video sparked fears that war crimes were being committed in the conflict. The footage showed two Armenian men being captured before being shot with their hands tied behind their backs. Armenian authorities identified them as Benik Hakobyan, 73, and Yuri Adamyan, 25. The Council of Europe, the continent’s top legal watchdog, confirmed that it would look into the video as an alleged abuse of human rights. However, the following day, Azerbaijan’s top legal official announced that an investigation into the videos had concluded that they were fake.

At the time, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told reporters that deep-seated ethnic tensions underpinned the conflict. He claimed that “Turkey [which provided support to Azerbaijan] has returned to the South Caucasus a hundred years later to continue its policy of genocide against Armenians.”

Baku has also accused Yerevan of committing similar violations of the laws governing warfare. In November, the Azeris announced that they would open an inquiry into potential crimes committed by both sides during the fierce fighting over the disputed province. Another clip shared on social media was said to show Armenian troops executing and beheading an Azeri prisoner of war.

In November, both sides announced a ceasefire agreement after talks brokered by Russian President Vladimir Putin. As part of the deal, Moscow announced that it would deploy troops to the region, in order to act as a barrier between the two sides, as well as to protect civilians.

Fact checkers have issued warnings over a number of shocking videos arising from the fighting in Nagorno-Karbakh, which they claim are part of an ongoing “information war.” One video, which attracted more than a quarter of a million views on Twitter, purported to show Iranians watching Azerbaijani and Armenian troops clash, as though it were a sporting event. However, it has since emerged that the video was taken from a military re-enactment in Russia in 2019.

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