Armenia says 135 troops killed in recent clashes with Azerbaijan

The ruins of a house, which is said was hit by Azeri shelling during recent border clashes with Azerbaijan, in Armenia, on Sept 14, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

YEREVAN - Armenia said on Friday that the number of its soldiers confirmed dead in this week’s clashes with Azerbaijan had risen from 105 to at least 135.

The fighting – which erupted on Tuesday and ended on Thursday – has jeopardised fledgling peace talks between Baku and Yerevan who are locked in a decades-long territorial dispute.

“For the moment, the number of dead is 135,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told a Cabinet meeting, after the worst fighting between the arch-foes since 2020.

“Unfortunately it is not the final figure. There are also many wounded.” Azerbaijan has reported 71 deaths among its troops.

Armenia’s security council has said the violence ended overnight on Thursday “thanks to international mediation”, before forcing hundreds of Armenian civilians to flee their homes.

Both sides have traded accusations of initiating the fighting which came as Yerevan’s closest ally Moscow is distracted by its nearly seven-month war in Ukraine.

The Caucasus neighbours fought two wars – in the 1990s and in 2020 – over the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region, Azerbaijan’s Armenian-populated enclave.

The six weeks of fighting in 2020 claimed the lives of more than 6,500 troops from both sides and ended with a Russian-brokered ceasefire.

Under the deal, Armenia ceded swathes of territory it had controlled for decades, and Moscow deployed about 2,000 Russian peacekeepers to oversee the fragile truce.

Ethnic Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The ensuing conflict claimed around 30,000 lives.

On Friday, Russia's President Vladimir Putin held a phone call with Armenia's Pashinyan to discuss the latest clashes, the Armenian government said in a statement.

"Nikol Pashinyan stressed that despite the fact the border is relatively calm at the moment, the situation continues to be very tense," the Armenian government said in a readout of the call.

Pashinyan also held calls with French President Emmanuel Macron and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday, the Armenian government said. AFP, REUTERS

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