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Azerbaijan Says Four Soldiers Killed Amid Cease-Fire Violations In Nagorno-Karabakh


Azerbaijani soldiers patrol at a checkpoint on a road outside the town of Susa (Shushi in Armenian) on November 26.

Azerbaijani defense officials say four soldiers have been killed since a cease-fire last month ended large-scale clashes with ethnic Armenian forces over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The Defense Ministry statement on December 13 gave few details as to when or where the deaths took place, saying only they occurred in an area that Azerbaijani forces took control of in the fighting that formally ended on November 10.

A day earlier, both Armenia and Azerbaijan traded accusations over heavy new fighting and new violations of the Russian-brokered cease-fire, which occurred in the southern Hadrut district.

It was unclear if the deaths announced on December 13 by Azerbaijan occurred in the Hadrut region.

Armenia's Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, accused Azerbaijan of "gross violations" of the cease-fire but gave no further details. And a day earlier, Armenia’s Defense Ministry accused Azerbaijani forces of attacking positions held by ethnic Armenian forces near Hadrut.

The Karabakh Defense Army, the fighting force of the ethnic Armenian administration that controlled Nagorno-Karabakh until last month's cease-fire, said earlier that three of its fighters were wounded in clashes on December 11.

Nagorno-Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan, but the territory and some surrounding areas have been controlled by ethnic Armenian forces since the early 1990s.

The two sides have skirmished regularly over the years, but in September, Azerbaijan launched a military offensive that resulted in Baku regaining control of the surrounding districts, and much of Nagorno-Karabakh itself.

The sides agreed to a Russian-brokered cease-fire in early November, resulting in in the deployment of 2,000 Russian peacekeeping forces to the conflict zone.

Russian peacekeepers acknowledged violations in Hadrut on both December 11 and 12, but did not assign blame.

Overall, Azerbaijan has reported 2,783 of its soldiers killed in the latest bout of fighting.

Armenia has not released a final death toll for its military, but Nagorno-Karabakh military officials have said at least 2,317 soldiers had been killed.

With reporting by TASS
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