Azerbaijan, Karabah separatists announce Russia-brokered ceasefire

Azerbaijan and Armenian-backed separatists in Karabakh have agreed to a Russian proposal for a ceasefire, a day after Baku launched a military operation there.

Separatist Armenian forces in Karabakh said they had agreed to stop hostilities from 1 p.m. local time (0900 GMT) on Wednesday.

“With the mediation of the command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent stationed in Karabakh, an agreement was reached on the complete cessation of hostilities from 13:00 on September 20, 2023.”

The separatists said they had committed to a “full dismantlement” of their forces and the withdrawal of Armenian army units from the region.

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry confirmed it had reached agreement on a ceasefire and halted its military operation.

The ministry said Armenian forces in Karabakh had agreed to “lay down their weapons, abandon combat positions and military posts and completely disarm”, and all weapons and heavy equipment were being handed over to the Azerbaijani army.

Azerbaijan launched a military operation in Karabakh on Tuesday, almost three years after it went to war with Armenia over the disputed mountainous region.

The new fighting erupted hours after Azerbaijan said four police officers and two civilians were killed in mine blasts in Karabakh, with authorities blaming separatists.

Azerbaijan justified its operation citing “systematic” shelling by Armenian-backed forces and accusing them of carrying out “reconnaissance activities” and fortifying defensive positions, accusing separatists of “a high level of combat readiness”.

Baku had demanded that the separatist political authorities in Karabakh, which is recognized internationally as part of Azerbaijan, also disband before any talks are held about the future of the region, which Azerbaijan wants to fully integrate.

Both sides said talks on reintegrating the breakaway territory into the rest of Azerbaijan would be held on Thursday in the city of Yevlakh.

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