TBILISI/BAKU: Armenia and Azerbaijan accused one other on Tuesday of starting fire near the contested Nagorno-Karabkah region, resulting in deaths on both sides.

Both countries’ defense ministries published statements on Tuesday afternoon, claiming that an undefined number of their forces had been killed in a fight near the disputed Lachin Corridor.

Over the last 35 years, the two South Caucasus countries fought repeated wars for control of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is home to a predominantly ethnic Armenian population.

Armenia’s defense ministry stated in a statement that Azerbaijani troops opened fire on Armenian troops undertaking engineering work near the village of Tegh in Armenia’s southern Syunik district around 4 p.m. (1200 GMT). It stated that its military had taken “countermeasures,” but provided no further specifics.

Tegh is not in the disputed zone, although it is the last settlement in Armenian territory on a major road connecting Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

The defense ministry of Azerbaijan stated that its troops came under “intense fire” from Armenian troops stationed in the Syunik area.

Both sides claimed fatalities but did not disclose further specifics.

The newest spat between the two bitter foes has erupted over control of the Lachin Corridor, the sole road connecting Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Since the end of last year, Azerbaijanis claiming to be environmental demonstrators have been obstructing the highway, resulting in what Armenia has dubbed a humanitarian crisis because food and medication cannot be brought into the region.

Baku dismisses these accusations, argues that critical supplies may enter the zone, and defends the demonstrators as rallying in support of legitimate environmental concerns. Government-backed agitators, according to Yerevan.

In 2020, Russia sent thousands of peacekeepers to the region as part of a deal to end weeks of conflict that killed thousands and saw Azerbaijan secure substantial territorial gains. Moscow is an ally of Armenia due to a mutual defense treaty, but it also seeks excellent relations with Baku. The latest standoff is considered as a vital test of Moscow’s continued power in the area, while it fights its own war in Ukraine.



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