Russian President Vladimir Putin said Turkey should be among countries involved in talks to end fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, as Azerbaijan and Armenia again accused each other on Thursday of shelling civilians in and around the mountain enclave, Reuters reported Thursday.
Putin told an online Russian investment forum Thursday that "many countries, including Turkey and a host of European states" should work together to find consensus. Turkey, an ally of Azerbaijan, has demanded a greater say in talks. "The first stage is to stop the fighting, stop the killing," said Putin.
With more peace talks scheduled for Geneva this week, the European Union said an escalation in the month-old conflict was "unacceptable" and called for a lasting settlement after the collapse of three ceasefires, according to Reuters.
The latest fighting between, Armenian and Azerbaijani forces began Sept. 27 and has involved heavy artillery, rockets and drones. It is the largest escalation of hostilities over Nagorno-Karabakh in the quarter-century since the war ended in 1994 when around 30,000 people were killed and a million others were displaced.
Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is populated and controlled by ethnic Armenians.
Hundreds and possibly thousands of people, have been killed in a little over a month. According to Nagorno-Karabakh officials, 1,119 of their troops and 39 civilians have been killed in the clashes so far. Azerbaijani authorities haven't disclosed their military losses, but say the fighting has killed at least 90 civilians and wounded 392.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that, according to Moscow's information, the death toll from the fighting was nearing 5,000, a significantly higher number than officially reported, according to the Associated Press.
The hostilities have raged on despite international calls for peace and three attempts at establishing a cease-fire. The latest U.S.-brokered truce frayed immediately after it took effect Monday (Oct 26), just like two previous cease-fires negotiated by Russia. The warring sides have repeatedly blamed each other for violations.
Azerbaijan claims downing 2 Armenian Su-25 attack aircraft
Azerbaijan on Thursday downed two Armenian Armed Forces Su-25 attack aircraft that attempted to conduct airstrikes on positions of the Azerbaijan army in the Qubadli region, Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry said.
"On October 29, at about 13:18 and 13:20, two Su-25 attack aircraft of the Armenian armed forces that attempted to inflict airstrikes on the positions of the Azerbaijan Army in the Qubadli direction of the front were shot down by Azerbaijan Air Defense Units," the ministry said in a Twitter statement.
The Azerbaijani presidency also said Thursday that "under the initiative of (President) Ilham Aliyev, the Azerbaijani side handed to Armenia the bodies of 30 troops" killed in the fighting.
Armenian Defense Ministry Spokesperson Shushan Stepanian confirmed the handover mediated by Russia and the Red Cross and added that the Armenian side was ready to return bodies of slain Azerbaijani soldiers.
Azerbaijan liberates 13 more villages from Armenian occupation: Aliyev
The Azerbaijani army liberated another 13 villages from Armenia's nearly three-decade-long occupation, the country's president Ilham Aliyev said on Wednesday.
"Victorious Armed Forces of Azerbaijan have liberated from occupation Birinji Agali, Ikinji Agali, Uchunju Agali and Zerneli villages of Zengilan, Mandili village of Fuzuli, Gazanzemi, Khanabulag, Jullu, Gushchular and Garaaghaj villages of Jabrayil, Giyasli, Edilje and Gilijan villages of Gubadli. Long live Azerbaijan's Armed Forces! Karabakh is Azerbaijan!" Ilham Aliyev said on Twitter.
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