The Defense Ministry of the disputed region Nagorno-Karabakh reported 11 more casualties on Sunday, raising the Armenian military death toll to 974 since the conflict flared up four weeks ago.
Some 37 civilians have also been killed in the fighting between Azeri and Armenian forces, which broke out again on September 27, it added.
Azerbaijan has not disclosed its military casualties due to censorship under the martial law that applies in the region. But Baku did say 65 civilians were killed and more than 300 wounded on their side.
Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is controlled by ethnic Armenian inhabitants. Fighting over the region has surged to its worst level since a war from 1991-1994 that killed some 30,000 people.
Two Russia-brokered cease-fires aimed at ending the fighting have already collapsed. Both sides have blamed each other for blocking a peaceful settlement.
Conflict rages on
Local officials in Karabakh on Sunday accused Azeri forces of firing artillery at civilian settlements during the night. Baku denied killing civilians and said its positions had been attacked with small arms, mortars, tanks, and howitzers.
Azerbaijan also said it had downed an Armenian military aircraft, reports Armenia denied.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said Sunday they have deployed troops along the Islamic Republic’s border with Armenia and Azerbaijan. Their mission was “to protect national interests and maintain peace and security,” according to comments published by the IRNA news agency.
Azeri president defiant
Two days after both sides held separate talks in Washington to try to resolve the conflict, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev defended his country’s right to self-defense. He tweeted that Azeri forces were “liberating Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territory from occupation.”
His comments appeared to contradict an interview he gave on Saturday, where Aliyev said he wanted the fighting to stop and for all parties to “move to the negotiating table.”
“I am absolutely confident in the effectiveness of the peace negotiations but this also depends on the will of the Armenian side to take part in them,” Azerbaijan’s president said.
Aliyev has said that Armenian forces need to withdraw from the disputed region to end the conflict.
dv/mm (dpa, Reuters)