Armenia-Azerbaijan clashes rage | Daily News

Armenia-Azerbaijan clashes rage

Macron denounces 'jihadist' deployment
Map locating the separatist region of Nagorny Karabakh in Azerbaidjan, which has a majority Armenian population.
Map locating the separatist region of Nagorny Karabakh in Azerbaidjan, which has a majority Armenian population.

AZERBAIJAN: Armenian and Azerbaijani forces intensified their shelling Thursday as French President Emmanuel Macron said jihadist militants had been deployed to Nagorny Karabakh in a "serious new" development.

The West and Russia renewed calls to halt several days of fighting over the disputed Nagorny Karabakh region that has left more than 130 dead.

In a joint appeal, Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President Donald Trump and Macron urged the two sides to return to negotiations aimed at resolving their longstanding territorial dispute.

The French leader said in a separate statement that Syrian jihadist militants had joined the fighting in Karabakh via Turkey, describing the deployment as a "serious new fact, which changes the situation".

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev have both rejected the idea of holding talks.

Russia suggested it was making progress in diplomatic efforts with Turkey, a firm supporter of Azerbaijan in the conflict.

The rival Caucasus nations have been locked in a bitter stalemate over Karabakh since the collapse of the Soviet Union when the ethnic Armenian region broke away from Azerbaijan.

Armenian Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan said on Facebook that 1,280 Azerbaijani troops had been killed and 2,700 wounded since Sunday, as both sides have made claims of heavy casualties inflicted on their opponent.

In turn, Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry said its forces had carried out "crushing artillery strikes" on Armenian forces.

Karabakh's declaration of independence from Azerbaijan sparked a war in the early 1990s that claimed 30,000 lives, but it is still not recognised as independent by any country, including Armenia.

- AFP