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Tensions Build Along Armenia-Azerbaijan Border Amid Renewed Deadly Clashes

Armenian soldiers take up positions on the border with Azerbaijan. (file photo)

Armenian and Azerbaijani have exchanged fire across their shared border for a third consecutive day, with both sides accusing each other of violating a cease-fire deal that ended their six-week war last year over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Amid growing concern that lingering tensions between the two South Caucasus neighbors could potentially spiral out of control, the Armenian Defense Ministry said in a statement on December 10 that one of its servicemen was killed and several others were wounded "as a result of offensive operations carried out by the Azeri forces."

The exchange of fire stopped as of 2:30 p.m. local time, it added.

Earlier, the ministry said its neighbor had attacked Armenian positions in the eastern part of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry said that Armenian units fired on Azerbaijani positions in the Kalbacar district in what it called "a provocation."

The reported fighting followed two days of similar clashes in which the sides said one soldier had been killed and two others wounded.

Tensions have simmered for years over Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian region internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan that broke away from Baku's control in the early 1990s.

The 44-day war that erupted in autumn 2020 claimed more than 6,500 lives. It ended with a Russian-brokered cease-fire under which Armenians ceded territories they had controlled for decades to Azerbaijan.

Border tensions have since remained high, with the worst renewed deadly fighting taking place last month.

The renewed fighting came as Moscow on December 10 hosted the inaugural session of a five-way South Caucasus peace platform, an idea proposed by Turkey and its ally Azerbaijan following last year's conflict.

Besides Russia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan, Armenia and Iran were represented at the level of deputy foreign ministers.

Georgia refused to participate in the platform amid persistent tensions with Russia.