10/08/2020, 09.11
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Rouhani: Nagorno-Karabakh risks becoming a regional war

The Iranian president is concerned by the escalation in the conflict, the worst in decades.  The urgent need to “restore stability”.  Appeals for truce also from Russia, the United States and Europe.  Heavy bombardments on Stepanakert overnight.  Half of Nagorno-Karabakh's population is displaced, 90% are women and children.


Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan risks leading to a large-scale conflict, which could involve various actors in the Middle East region, warns Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The head of state was commenting on the intensification in clashes between the two neighboring countries in recent days following a series of heavy bombings in Nagorno-Karabakh.  He says stability must be restored to put an end to the worst clashes of recent decades.

"We must be attentive that the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan does not become a regional war," President Rouhani said on Wednesday. "Peace is the basis of our work and we hope to restore stability to the region in a peaceful way," he added. President Rouhani also said it was "totally unacceptable" for any stray shells and missiles to land on Iranian soil.

Rouhani's words are linked to reports of rockets and mortars that fell near some villages along the northern border, which separates the Islamic Republic from Armenia and Azerbaijan.  "Our priority - he assured - is to guarantee the protection of cities and villages".

Yesterday Russian President Vladimir Putin - a military ally with Yerevan, while nurturing solid relations with the Baku government - called for an end to the fighting, which he calls "a tragedy" for everyone.  Condemnation of the ongoing clashes and appeals for detente also come from the governments of the United States and Europe, but so far there are no signs of an easing in the conflict.

On the contrary, during the night there were heavy bombings in Stepanakert - the capital of the self-proclaimed republic of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh for the Armenians) - which began at 9 pm and continued until 5 am local time.  Sirens sounded at regular intervals, followed by loud explosions.  At the moment there is no definite news of the damage, human and material.  Local authorities speak of "indiscriminate bombing" by Azerbaijani forces on urban centers.

The violence in recent weeks has caused at least half of the inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh to flee their homes.  To date, the official toll speaks of 300 dead, of which over 50 civilians;  however, the number could be far greater with both warring sides claiming the killing of "thousands" of enemy soldiers.  According to unofficial estimates, half of the enclave's population is displaced;  90% are women and children.  According to Artak Belgarian, mediator of the self-proclaimed Republic, their number is around 70-75 thousand, out of a total of 140 thousand.

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