Tensions on contact line increase

By: Aynur Karimova

The tensions have recently increased on the contact line of Azerbaijani and Armenian troops and more cases of ceasefire violations have been recorded.

Armenian armed forces have broken the ceasefire with Azerbaijan 86 times in various parts of the contact line in the last 24 hours using mortars and large-caliber machine guns.

Vagif Dargahli, spokesman for Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said that the Armenian side suffers dozens of losses during these violations, but it reports about few.

“Today, they have spread information about the loss of only one serviceman, saying that he was killed by a sniper. But they do not specify where it happened.” he told local media on December 10.

Asked about the reason of the increased tensions, Dargahli faced difficulty to answer.

“To link this with something is impossible, because the Armenian troops violate the stability and aggravate the situation on the front. All these are directly connected with the military and political leadership of Armenia, Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan and President Serzh Sargsyan. The responsibility for the consequences of the Azerbaijani army’s response lies upon the criminal regime and the military-political leadership of Armenia,” Dargahli noted.

Touching upon the Armenian side’s claims that Azerbaijani Armed Forces have used tanks for the first time since the declaration of the ceasefire, and opened fire from the TR-107 anti-aircraft missile complex for 17 times, and from tanks for 5 times, Dargahli said that the Azerbaijani army use weapons of different caliber depending on the situation on the contact line of troops.

“Azerbaijani Armed Forces, located on the front, use various weapons against the enemy depending on the situation,” he noted.

Dargahli, commenting on the Armenian side’s complaints directed to Andrzej Kasprzyk, the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, said the Armenian side has repeatedly shelled the OSCE mission.

“In this regard, the Azerbaijani side has repeatedly sent official appeals to this organization. Such a behavior of the Armenians causes a big surprise,” he added.

Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a lengthy war that ended with the signing of a fragile ceasefire in 1994. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and over 1 million were displaced as a result of the large-scale hostilities.

Since the war, Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions. Armenia continues the occupation in defiance of four UN Security Council resolutions calling for immediate and unconditional withdrawal. Peace talks brokered by mediators from Russia, France and the U.S. have produced no results so far.

Meanwhile, the U.S., which is one of the co-chairing countries of the OSCE Minsk Group, has expressed concern over the recent escalation of violence on the contact line of the troops.

John Kirby, the U.S. State Department spokesperson, told reporters in a press briefing that this is unacceptable.

“We call for the sides to strictly adhere to the ceasefire regime. We express our deep condolences to the families of those who died or were injured in recent incidents in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” he said.

“OSCE Minsk group co-chairs will hold the meeting between the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia. We call on the sides to take all steps to avoid violence and to improve the atmosphere for negotiations,” Kirby added.