Azerbaijan Says 1 Soldier Dead in Armenian Ambush

Azerbaijan said Monday that one of its soldiers was killed during a skirmish with Armenian separatists, in an apparent escalation of hostilities undermining a recent Russian-brokered ceasefire.

The defense ministry said in a statement that an illegal group of Armenian fighters in territory adjacent to the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region carried out the ambush on Sunday.

«As a result of the attack, a soldier of the Azerbaijan army… was killed,» it said, noting another serviceman was wounded but in a stable condition.

A peace deal mediated by Russia ended in early November six weeks of fighting between Azerbaijan and separatists backed by Armenia for control of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

More than 6,000 people were killed in the conflict before the peace agreement that saw Armenia cede swathes of territory it had controlled for decades to its longstanding rival.

Azerbaijan said on Monday that six Armenian fighters died in the attack near the village of Agdam, which was captured by Baku’s army in November.

The defense ministry vowed to take «decisive measures» if repeat attacks were carried out by Armenian troops.

A Russian peacekeeping force of around 2,000 soldiers deployed to Karabakh as part of the terms of the November accord.

The mission reported earlier this month that one Russian solider died during a mine-clearing operation but says the peace deal is largely holding.

Azerbaijan revealed earlier in December that at least six servicemen had died since the Nov. 10 peace accord was agreed.

Separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh broke from Azerbaijan’s control in a war in the 1990s that killed some 30,000 people.

Its declaration of autonomy has not been recognized by any country, including Armenia.

Azerbaijan Says No Reason for Russia to Intervene Over Karabakh

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said Sunday there was no reason for Russia to intervene in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh because Baku is not threatening Armenian territory.

Fighting has been raging over Karabakh — an ethnic Armenian region of Azerbaijan — for more than a month and on Saturday Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan asked Moscow for «urgent consultations» on how Russia could come to its aid under a defense treaty.

Hosting Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Baku, Aliyev said Pashinyan’s request was an «admission of defeat» and that the treaty did not apply because Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.

«Azerbaijan is conducting military operations on its territory and has no military plans for the territory of Armenia,» Aliyev’s office quoted him as saying.

Hundreds of people have been killed since new fighting erupted on September 27 over Karabakh, which broke from Azerbaijan’s control during a war in the 1990s.

International attempts to secure a ceasefire have repeatedly failed.

Aliyev said his country would agree to a truce only if Armenian separatists stopped trying to win back territory recently retaken by Azerbaijani forces.

«This is the main reason for continued fighting,» he said.

Cavusoglu re-asserted Ankara’s support for Azerbaijan and said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had told him it was «unacceptable» to leave Azerbaijan without assistance.

Fighting continued overnight and Sunday morning, the warring sides said.

The Karabakh separatist leadership accused Azerbaijan of striking civilian settlements including the strategic town of Shusha.

«In the morning the enemy forces renewed offensive operations,» the Karabakh army said.

The Azerbaijani defense ministry accused Armenian forces of targeting its army and civilian settlements on Saturday and overnight.

More than 1,200 people from both sides have been reported killed in the fighting but the death toll is believed to be substantially higher.

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