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Armenia & Azerbaijan declare a new ceasefire

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Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to stop fighting for "humanitarian reasons" after dozens of civilians have died in the latest flare-up over the disputed region, RT reported Saturday.

The foreign ministries of the two countries announced the decision late on Saturday, simultaneously releasing similar statements. The ceasefire is said to come into effect within hours, at 00:00 local time.

However, Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of violating a fresh "humanitarian truce" minutes after the agreement came into force, as both Russia and France said they intervened in an attempt to mediate an end to the latest escalation in violence over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Shusan Stepanyan, a spokeswoman for Armenia's defense ministry, said on Twitter that Azerbaijan fired artillery shells and rockets.

The ceasefire deal, agreed on Saturday, came a week after Russia brokered a truce, which failed to stop the worst fighting in the region in decades, with both warring sides accusing each other of violations.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called his Armenian and Azeri counterparts in the hours before the announcement, his ministry said, urging both parties to adhere to the deal brokered in Moscow last week.

France also put out a statement after Saturday's announcement, saying it followed "French mediation " in co-ordination with the co-chairs of the Minsk Group (Russia and the US)".

The truce announcement came hours after Azerbaijan accused Armenia of perpetrating a war crime during a missile attack on its second city of Ganja, a charge echoed by ally Turkey.

Armenia denied responsibility for the attack, which left 13 civilians - including two children - dead and dozens wounded.

The EU on Saturday condemned the attacks on Ganja and said the original ceasefire deal "must be fully respected without delay". "All targeting of civilians and civilian installations by either party must stop," said a spokesperson for EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell.

Azerbaijan's defense ministry earlier said it had made further gains on the front line, bringing several villages and a city under its control.

The contested Nagorno-Karabakh region, a mountainous and heavily forested patch of land, is at the heart of a decades-long armed standoff between neighbors Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Home to some 145,000 people, Nagorno-Karabakh is controlled by ethnic Armenians backed by the Republic of Armenia, but is recognized as part of Azerbaijan under international law.

Azerbaijan lost control of the area in a war that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union some 30 years ago. A fragile ceasefire had been in place since 1994.

Armenia pushed for new ceasefire

Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith, reporting from Yerevan, the Armenian capital, said it was Armenia that had pushed for the latest ceasefire.

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Abdus-Sattar Ghazali Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
 
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