One Armenian soldier wounded in skirmish with Azeris in Karabakh

One Armenian soldier wounded in skirmish with Azeris in Karabakh

Photolure

Karabakh forces stopped another act of Azeri sabotage on the line of contact.

One Armenian conscript has been wounded in fighting in Karabakh when – according to the NKR Defense Army Press Office – an Azeri sabotage unit attempted to overrun the Armenian positions and move into the Armenian-controlled territory.


The incident took place at 6:30 am on August 31 in the vicinity of the village of Chailu in northeastern Karabakh.


“The Armenian servicemen on duty timely noticed the movement of an enemy special task group and took corresponding action,” the report said, adding that following the Armenian response the Azeri forces retreated, “suffering losses”. Neither the strength of the Azeri sabotage unit or the number of losses it suffered is reported.

It is reported that Karabakh army private Rudik Manaseryan, 19, was wounded in the exchange of fire. No further details about his current health condition are released.

Azerbaijan gave a different account of events, accusing the Armenian side of crossing the line of contact. It claimed three Armenian and two Azeri soldiers were killed in the clashes. While no account could be independently verified, Armenian forces denied any loss of life on their side in this incident, claiming seven killed or wounded among the Azeri military.

Tensions over Karabakh have risen in recent months amid stalled negotiations over the status of the region, which has enjoyed de-facto independence from Baku since the end of a 1991-1994 war that claimed an estimated 30,000 lives.

The positions in northeastern Karabakh, and the village of Chailu in particular, became a target of a major Azeri assault in June in which four Armenian soldiers were killed and as many wounded. One Azeri was also killed in that battle.

Ceasefire violations along the line of contact of the Azerbaijani and Karabakh forces have become more frequent since that deadly incident, which Armenia said was a major provocation aimed at foiling the peace process.

The sides routinely accuse each other of violating the terms of the ceasefire that was agreed, through Russia’s mediation, in 1994 and has largely held since then.

The latest incident occurred only two days before the visit of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to Azerbaijan during which the Karabakh issue is also likely to be discussed.

(Russia, along with the United States and France, spearheads international efforts to broker a solution to the protracted conflict as part of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Minsk Group).

Medvedev and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan signed a protocol in Yerevan on August 20 extending Russia's lease on a Russian military base in Armenia till 2044 as well as upgrading the base's mission that will now also include ensuring, jointly with Armenian forces, the security of the entire Republic of Armenia, rather than only its former USSR border, (i.e. the borders with Turkey and Iran).

The protocol, which also commits Moscow to supplying its regional ally with “modern and compatible weaponry and special military hardware”, is widely viewed in Yerevan as a shield against an Azeri aggression – be it against Armenia or Karabakh.

Meanwhile, some officials in Baku, notably Azerbaijan’s Defense Minister Safar Abiyev, have downplayed Armenia’s amended defense pact with Russia as a factor that could deter Azerbaijan from attempting a military solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Others in Azerbaijan have expressed concerns over the move and questioned Moscow’s stated neutrality in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.