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Azerbaijan, Armenia reject talks on expanding Karabakh conflict Asia

The UN Security Council has expressed concern over the clashes after Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an end to the fighting.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused each other of firing directly into each other’s territory and rejected pressure to hold peace talks as their conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave threatened to enter a full-blown war.

The two sides announced on Tuesday that they were firing from the other side across their common border, west of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, for which fierce fighting broke out between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces on Sunday.

The incidents are a signal of further escalation of the conflict, despite urgent calls from Russia, the United States and others to stop fighting.

The conflict has raised concerns about stability in the South Caucasus region and threatens to slow in Turkey and Russia.

In a conversation with Russian state television, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev categorically rejected any possibility of talks. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told the same channel that there could be no talks as long as the fighting continues.

Nagorno-Karabakh is a breakaway region in Azerbaijan, controlled by ethnic Armenians and backed by Armenia. It seceded from Azerbaijan in a war in the 1

990s, but is not recognized by any country as an independent republic.

Dozens were reported killed and hundreds injured in clashes between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces on Sunday.

UN concerns

Following a closed-door discussion on Tuesday, the 15-member UN Security Council “expressed concern” over the clashes, condemned the use of force and backed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for an immediate end to the fighting.

Further escalating tensions between the two former Soviet republics, Armenia said a Turkish F-16 fighter shot down one of its fighter jets over Armenian airspace, killing the pilot.

He did not provide evidence of the incident. Turkey denied the request.

“Armenia should withdraw from the occupied territories instead of resorting to cheap propaganda tricks,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s chief aide Fahretin Altun.

Earlier this week, Armenia accused Turkey of sending mercenaries to support Azerbaijani forces in the ethnic Armenian region.

Putin’s appeal

Any engagement in a comprehensive war could threaten to drag not only Turkey but also Russia. Moscow has a defense alliance with Armenia, but also enjoys close relations with Azerbaijan.

The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin had spoken to Pashinyan on the phone for the second time since the crisis began, and said all countries should take measures to de-escalate. It has not made public any contacts between Putin and Aliyev.

Moscow maintains constant contact with Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and any talks on providing military support to opposing countries will only add fuel to the fire, the statement said.

Growing casualties

Pashinyan told the BBC that Azerbaijani forces shelled villages and towns in Nagorno-Karabakh and inside Armenia itself on Tuesday.

“There are casualties among both the military and civilians. Dozens were killed and hundreds wounded, “he said.

The Azerbaijani prosecutor’s office says 12 Azerbaijani civilians have been killed and 35 wounded by Armenian fire so far. The Azerbaijani side has not revealed any military casualties.

Nagorno-Karabakh has reported the loss of at least 84 troops.

“What can I say? This is a war. Several times a day we hear airstrikes and hide in bomb shelters,” Albert Voskanyan, a resident of the enclave’s capital, Stepanakert, told Reuters.

Earlier, Armenian authorities said a civilian had been killed in an Azerbaijani attack on the Armenian city of Vardenis, more than 20km from Nagorno-Karabakh. They said a bus caught fire in the city after being hit by an Azeri drone.

The Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan stated that the Armenian army fired on the Dashkesan region of Azerbaijan from Vardenis. Armenia has denied the reports.

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