Reacting to reports of resurgent tensions on the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Iran has called its two northern neighbors to avoid escalation by exercising restraint.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry told the Republic’s Trend News Agency on Sunday that Armenia’s Armed Forces had violated the standing ceasefire between the two sides 117 times over the previous 24 hours.
“Armenia’s Armed Forces have fired 34 shells using 60- and 82-millimeter mortars,” Trend cited the Ministry as saying.
Later in the day, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said the Islamic Republic advises the two sides to “invest all their efforts towards the restoration of calm and the peaceful resolution of differences through dialog and negotiations.”
Qassemi also called on relevant international institutions to act on their responsibilities and help end the situation, saying Tehran was prepared to cooperate with either side towards establishment of peace and security in the region.
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Last April, Azerbaijani and Armenian troops opened artillery fire against each other on a scale not seen since a separatist war concluded in 1994. According to reports, nearly 75 servicemen from both sides along with a number of civilians were killed in the skirmishes.
A Russian-mediated truce went into effect later that month, but sporadic clashes have continued since then.
The Karabakh region, which is located in the Azerbaijan Republic but is populated by Armenians, has been under the control of local ethnic Armenian militia and the Armenian troops since the three-year war, which claimed over 30,000 lives and ended on May 12, 1994.
On Monday, Five Azeri soldiers were killed in clashes with Armenia-backed separatists along the
boundary with the Nagorno-Karabakh region, said the Azeri Defense Ministry, with each side accusing the other of an attempted incursion.
It said that clashes occurred in the early hours of Saturday, in the remote Khojavend and Fizuli regions, and that separatists were still preventing evacuation of the bodies of the victims.