Armenia-Azerbaijan border sees deadly clashes

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Azeri artillery – years of diplomacy have failed to ease tensions

At least four Azeri troops have been killed in two days of clashes involving tanks and artillery on Azerbaijan’s border with Armenia.

A conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh remains unresolved, but the latest fighting was in Tavush, an area north of that territory.

Azerbaijan’s military reported the four deaths, but said it had destroyed an Armenian fortification and artillery.

Armenia has not reported any deaths on its side in the clashes.

The two ex-Soviet republics in the Caucasus fought a bitter war in the 1990s, when Armenia backed the majority ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan.

At an emergency meeting on Monday, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said: “Armenia’s political and military leadership will bear the entire responsibility for the provocation.”

Armenia, however, accused its neighbour of “using artillery in an attack aimed at capturing (Armenian) positions”.

“They were repulsed, suffering losses in manpower. There were no casualties among Armenian servicemen,” Armenia’s defence ministry spokeswoman, Shushan Stepanyan, said on Facebook.

On 6 July, President Aliyev said peace talks with Armenia to settle the long-standing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict had stalled.

He called recent talks between the countries’ foreign ministers “pointless”.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has long been trying to mediate a settlement of the conflict, which dates back to the 1990s.

The OSCE Minsk Group – diplomats from France, Russia and the US – is trying to build on a fragile ceasefire agreed in 1994.