Hours after a Russian-brokered cease-fire went into effect, Armenia and Azerbaijan on Saturday accused each other of violating the truce.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who mediated the negotiations in Moscow Friday, announced the cease-fire after 10 hours of talks with Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers. He also said Armenia and Azerbaijan had agreed to launch talks on the settlement of the conflict.
According to the defense ministry of Azerbaijan, Armenian forces carried out attacks on the regions of Aghdara-Tartar and Fuzuli-Jabrayil.
Armenia's Defense Ministry denied any truce violations by the Armenian forces and said in the evening that the truce was "largely holding" despite Azerbaijani "provocations," to which the Armenian troops responded in kind.
Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to a cease-fire starting at noon Saturday to allow for the exchange of prisoners and return of the bodies of those killed in action.
The Associated Press said if the truce holds, it would mark a major diplomatic coup for Russia, which has a security pact with Armenia but also cultivated warm ties with Azerbaijan. But the agreement was immediately challenged by mutual claims of violations.
Minutes after the truce came into force, the Armenian military accused Azerbaijan of shelling the area near the town of Kapan in southeastern Armenia, killing one civilian. Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry rejected the Armenian accusations as a "provocation."
The Azerbaijani military, in turn, accused Armenia of striking the Terter and Agdam regions of Azerbaijan with missiles and then attempting to launch offensives in the Agdere-Terter and the Fizuli-Jabrail areas.
Several explosions - both in the air and on the ground - were observed in Nigorno-Karabakh capital Stepankert, RT reported.The latest outburst of fighting between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces began Sept. 27 and left hundreds of people dead in the biggest escalation of the decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh since in 1994.
The current escalation marked the first time that Azerbaijan's ally Turkey took a high profile in the conflict, offering strong political support, the Associated Press said adding: Over the past few years, Turkey provided Azerbaijan with state-of-the-art weapons, including drones and rocket systems that helped the Azerbaijani military outgun the Nagorno-Karabakh separatist forces in the latest fighting.
Armenian officials claim Turkey is involved in the conflict and is sending Syrian mercenaries to fight on Azerbaijan's side. Turkey has denied Armenian claim.
A lasting cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh would allow the Kremlin to stem Turkey's bid to expand its clout in Russia's backyard without ruining its strategic relationship with Ankara, the AP argued.
A cease-fire between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the occupied region of Nagorno-Karabakh will not replace a permanent solution to the issue, Turkey's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Saturday.
"The cease-fire, which has been declared for the exchange of prisoners and bodies on humanitarian grounds, is an important first step, but is no substitute for a permanent solution," the ministry said.
The statement reiterated that Turkey would only support solutions agreed on by Azerbaijan.