Iran says ready to mediate between Azerbaijan and Armenia

July 17, 2020 - 20:41

TEHRAN – Iran announced on Thursday that that it is ready to mediate between the Republic of Azerbaijan and Armenia in the wake of deadly border clashes between the two countries.

“As soon as clashes erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Iran’s diplomatic apparatus got active to mediate and soothe this tension as the region cannot afford another conflict,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi told reporters in the northwestern city of Ardabil, Tasnim reported.

In phone conversations with Azeri Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan late on Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif voiced Tehran’s readiness to help soothe the tensions between two of its northern neighbors and asked to them to show restraint.

Azerbaijan and Armenia have accused each other of shelling military positions and villages, breaking a day of ceasefire in border clashes between the long-feuding former Soviet republics.

The Azerbaijan Defense Ministry said on Thursday one of its soldiers died, while Armenia's Defense Ministry said a civilian was wounded in Chinari village from an Azeri drone attack, according to al Jazeera.

Prior to that, 15 soldiers from both sides and one civilian had died since Sunday in the flareup between nations who fought a 1990s war over the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh region.

In a blizzard of rhetoric on both sides, Azerbaijan warned Armenia it might attack the Metsamor nuclear power station if its Mingechavir reservoir or other strategic outlets were hit.

The neighbors have long been in conflict over Azerbaijan's breakaway, mainly ethnic Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh. But the latest flareups are around the Tavush region in northeast Armenia, some 300km (190 miles) from the enclave.

Armenia's Defense ministry accused the Azerbaijan army of moving positions while using villagers as "human shields".

Azerbaijan denied targeting civilians and made the same accusation against Armenia of shelling villages.

"With no gain in the battlefield, the Azerbaijani military units began shelling the villages ... deliberately targeting the civilian infrastructures and the population," Armenia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

A Reuters news agency correspondent reportedly saw several partly-destroyed houses in the villages of Dondar Gushchu, Agdam and Alibeyli in Azerbaijan.

Local villagers on both sides of the border told AFP news agency their homes had come under fire and they feared for their lives.


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