Azerbaijan says five soldiers killed in clashes with Armenian separatists

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi

Armenian troops alongside allied Karabakh separatist forces clashed with Azerbaijani troops February 25 in the Khojavend-Fizuli sector of the Nagorno-Karabakh line of contact, the military zone that separates their respective positions, leaving around five Azerbaijani soldiers dead, local sources indicated along with AFP. "And in the end, the scene clearly shows the bodies of Azerbaijani soldiers left in Martuni", Artsrun Hovannisian - Spokesman of the Defense Ministry said.

At least five Azerbaijani servicemen were killed on February 25 in the worst flare-up of fighting over Nagorno Karabakh since last April.

Diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict during the last 25 years have brought little progress.

Clashes over control of Nagorno-Karabakh, which lies inside Azerbaijan but is controlled by ethnic Armenians, have stoked fears of a wider conflict breaking out in the South Caucasus, which is crisscrossed by oil and gas pipelines.

The highland region of Nagorno-Karabakh (Mountainous Karabakh) is a mostly Armenian-populated enclave inside the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan. The second shows the dust that rises after the launching of it, also as the response fire opened by the Armenian side. However, the two sides have since accused one another of violating the truce.

Energy-rich Azerbaijan, whose military spending exceeds Armenia's entire state budget, has repeatedly threatened to take back the breakaway region by force. Several bodies remain in the no-man's land. Azerbaijan said in a statement quoted by Russian news agencies that it had shot down an Armenian drone and destroyed an Armenian firing position. The clashes came on the 25th anniversary of the 1992 Khojaly massacre in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The bodies of the Azerbaijani casualties were removed from the neutral zone at about 5pm under an agreement reached between the two parties with the mediation of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Artsakh Defense Ministry reported on Monday.



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