Calm Prevails Armenia, Azerbaijan Border after 3 Days of Escalation
By Staff, Agencies
Defense officials in Armenia and Azerbaijan announced that there had been no new fighting on their border overnight Wednesday, after several days of deadly clashes raised fears of a major flare-up.
At least 16 people from both sides were killed in three days of fighting that started Sunday between the ex-Soviet republics, which have been locked for decades in a conflict over Azerbaijan's separatist region of Nagorny Karabakh.
The territory was seized by ethnic Armenian separatists in a 1990s war that claimed 30,000 lives, though this week's fighting took place on the two countries' northern border, far from Karabakh.
Armenian defense ministry spokeswoman Sushan Stepanyan said Wednesday that the situation on the border was "calm overnight," while the foreign ministry in Yerevan said clashes had ended around midnight.
Azerbaijan's defense ministry also said that "military action halted at midnight".
Eleven Azerbaijan troops and one civilian have been killed in the clashes, as well as four Armenian troops, according to the two countries.
This comes as Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called both neighbors to exercise restraint amid the recent escalation.
Zarif on Tuesday held separate telephone conversations with his Azeri and Armenian counterparts to discuss the latest escalation of tension between the two countries over the Karabakh region.
The Iranian top diplomat urged the two parties to exercise restraint and start negotiations to peacefully settle their conflicts.
He also expressed Tehran's preparedness to help end the ongoing tensions, according to the Foreign Ministry’s website.
In parallel, the fighting had prompted calls for an immediate ceasefire from the United States, European Union and regional power broker Russia.