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Azerbaijan Launches Military Exercises Amid Tensions With Armenia

  • RFE/RL

Azerbaijan has launched military maneuvers in the midst of escalating tensions with neighboring Armenia.

The Defense Ministry in Baku says the maneuvers that began on February 2 involve 20,000 soldiers, 300 armored vehicles, 200 missile launchers and artillery units, up to 20 military jets.

Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov and Chief of General Staff, Nacmaddin Sadikov, are in command of the exercises -- which involve all branches of Azerbaijan's military forces.

The ministry did not specify when the maneuvers would end.

Azerbaijan and Armenia accused each other of multiple cease-fire violations.

Several soldiers from each side have been killed in recent weeks.

Relations have been tense between Baku and Yerevan for nearly 25 years as a result of their conflict over Azerbaijan's breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenian-backed separatists seized the mainly ethnic Armenian-populated region from Azerbaijan during a war in the early 1990s that killed 30,000 people.

International diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict have brought little progress.

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