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Armenia, Azerbaijan agree to new ceasefire – US

US officials say Armenia and Azerbaijan will attempt another ceasefire on Monday morning over war-ravaged Nagorno-Karabakh in the South Caucasus.

Officials in the State Department made the announcement on Sunday following several days of renewed fighting in the small mountainous enclave, which itself has known little peace since September 27.

In that time, hundreds of civilians have reportedly been killed on either side.

The ceasefire announcement also came after a meeting in Washington between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the co-chairs of the Organisation for Security and co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group.  The group, led by France, Russia and the US, was formed to mediate the twenty-six-year-old conflict.

A statement on Sunday from the Minsk Group said ”the co-chairs and foreign ministers discussed implementing an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, possible parameters for monitoring the ceasefire, and initiating discussion of core substantive elements of a comprehensive solution.”

Last week, Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other of violating a previous Russian-brokered ceasefire just hours after it was agreed.

The new humanitarian ceasefire in separatist-controlledNagorno-Karabakh is expected to take effect at 8am local time on Monday.

However, new fighting flared on Sunday between Azerbaijan and Armenian forces as both sides blamed each other for blocking a peaceful settlement to the conflict.

Nagorno-Karabakh’s military accused Azeri forces of shelling civilian settlements in the areas of Martuni and Askeran on Saturday evening, saying battles “on all directions of the frontline” took place on Sunday morning.

In turn, Azerbaijan alleged that Armenian forces shelled its Terter, Agdam and Aghjabedi regions.

Nagorno-Karabakh, recognized by the international community as belonging to Azerbaijan, is mainly populated by ethnic Armenians. The region has been running its own affairs with support from Armenia, especially since the conflict of the mid-1990’s, which culminated in the expulsion of Azeri forces.

Observers have expressed concerns about regional powers like Turkey and Russia becoming more involved in the conflict.

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