: Flare-up in Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict leaves dozens dead on both sides
Politics11:05 Apr. 3, 2016
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Flare-up in Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict leaves dozens dead on both sides

Fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh region has raged for more than 25 years

Fresh hostilities in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

It's the latest flare-up in a conflict which has been raging for more than 25 years.

Armenia says 18 of its troops have died. Azerbijan reports it has lost 12 soldiers. There are also civilian casualties on both sides.

BACKGROUND: Nagorno-Karabakh lies inside Azerbaijan but is controlled by ethnic Armenians. As the Soviet Union broke apart in 1991, it was the site of a bloody separatist war.

Open hostilities came to an end in 1994, after the deaths of some 30,000 people. Since then, the mountainous, landlocked region has run its own affairs with heavy military and financial backing from Armenia.

Watch also European Games touched by Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

In the 90s, Russia helped broker the ceasefire which, at least officially, still remains in force. Under President Putin, Moscow is again trying to play the peacemaker. The Russian leader periodically hosts Armenian and Azeri leaders for talks. 

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Remains of a downed Azerbaijani forces helicopter lies in a field in the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh region, April 2, 2016 (AP Photo) 

But progress toward a final settlement of the long-running dispute has proven elusive.

Sergei Lavrov, Foreign Minister of Russia: "The conflict has been going on too long. No one denies this. Everyone also agrees there is a basis, a real basis for reaching agreement. Now, it seems, the challenge is for these understandings to translate into concrete formulations."

Watch also Armenian forces violate ceasefire 88 times on Azerbaijani border: Baku

In Nagorno-Karabakh, authorities say at stake is their fight for self-determination. They deny a territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Nonetheless, Armenian leaders often visit the breakaway region, including Defence Minister Seyran Ohanyan.

The latest ceasefire violations show that tensions remain high. They have also once again dashed hopes of an end to a quarter-century of hostilities. The recurrent violence is bringing into question the labelling of the situation as a ‘frozen conflict'.

 

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