Death toll in Armenia war crosses 600


Armenia: The reported death toll in clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani  forces over the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh has reached about 600, with officials reporting more military and civilian deaths as the fighting continues despite a cease-fire announced over the weekend.

Nagorno-Karabakh military officials said Tuesday that 16 more of their servicemen have been killed in fighting, bringing total number of dead among military members to 532 since 27 September, when the fighting started. Azerbaijan hasn’t disclosed its military losses, and the overall toll is likely to be much higher with both sides regularly claiming to have inflicted significant military casualties on one another.

Azerbaijani authorities said 42 civilians have been killed on their side in over two weeks. Nagorno-Karabakh human rights ombudsman Artak Beglaryan late Monday reported at least 31 civilian deaths in the breakaway region. Hundreds more have been wounded.

The recent fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces broke out on 27 September. More than two weeks of deadly clashes marked the biggest escalation of a decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, which lies in Azerbaijan but has been under control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since the end of a separatist war in 1994.

Both sides have repeatedly accused each other of attacks amid appeals from the around the globe to end the hostilities and start peace talks. Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers signed a cease-fire deal last week. The truce that took effect Saturday was brokered by Russia, which has a security pact with Armenia. But Moscow also has cultivated warm ties with Azerbaijan and seeks to mediate in the conflict.

The truce, however, has been immediately challenged with both Armenia and Azerbaijan accusing each other of continued attacks in violation of the agreement. On Tuesday, Azerbaijani officials have once again accused Armenian forces of shelling some of its regions, and Nagorno-Karabakh officials said Azerbaijan launched large-scale military operations along the front line.