Several Dead After Armenia, Azerbaijan Exchange Fire As Border Crisis Escalates

 Via The Cradle,

Armenia and Azerbaijan exchanged fire in the contested Nagorno-Karabkah region on Tuesday, resulting in deaths on both sides, Al-Jazeera reported.

Defense ministries from both countries issued statements on Tuesday afternoon saying their own troops had been killed in a clash close to the contested Lachin Corridor while blaming the opposing side for initiating the hostilities. "Armenian army positions deployed near the settlement of Dyg [at the countries’ shared border] opened heavy fire at Azerbaijani army positions," Azerbaijan’s defense ministry said in a statement. "There are dead and wounded among Azerbaijani troops."

Several Dead After Armenia, Azerbaijan Exchange Fire As Border Crisis Escalates

In contrast, the Armenian defense ministry blamed Azerbaijan for initiating the violence. Reuters  reported that three Azeri and four Armenian soldiers had died in the clashes near the contested Lachin Corridor, a strategic road into Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia that crosses through Azeri territory.

Azerbaijanis claiming to be environmental protesters have been blocking the route since the end of last year. Armenia calls them government-backed agitators and claims the blockade has caused a humanitarian crisis.

The two former Soviet Republics have fought multiple wars over the last 35 years for control of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is home to mainly ethnic Armenians but claimed by Azerbaijan. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, ethnic Armenian separatists in Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan. Some 30,000 people were killed in the conflict that followed.

Significant fighting erupted in 2020. Thousands were killed, and Azerbaijan won significant new territory before Moscow dispatched peacekeepers to the region.

Last month, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan claimed that "fundamental problems" remain between the two countries because "Azerbaijan is trying to put forward territorial claims, which is a red line to Armenia."

Pashinyan also claimed that "Azerbaijan’s rhetoric is becoming more and more aggressive every day," Pashinyan said. He further added that recent disruptions from Baku along the Lachin Corridor have been ongoing for several months, deeming these actions as a preparation for the “ethnic cleansing of Armenians.”

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