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22/06/2021
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Azerbaijan presses on with military operations as Putin invites ministers for talks – live blog

Azerbaijan continued a military operation in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region on Thursday, as Russian President Vladimir Putin invited the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan to Moscow for peace talks, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Friday.

Azeri Defence Ministry spokesperson Anar Eyvazov said the military had not fallen back from areas taken from Armenian separatists.

“Everything continues in accordance with the operation plan. Destination Karabakh,” Anadolu cited Eyvazov as telling reporters on Thursday. “Our army has not taken even a step back from the regions it has liberated from the occupation since the day it launched a counter-attack.”

Eyvazov listed recent losses by Armenian forces: a drone was shot down by air defence units along the Armenian-Azeri border on Thursday; Armenian positions were hit with artillery; and 30 vehicles, 10 tanks, six D-20 howitzers and one Akatsiya self-propelled howitzer were destroyed along the front line.

He said Armenian forces had launched missile strikes on the provinces of Goranboy, Tartar, Aghdam, Aghjabadi and Barda, and some Azeri civilians were killed and wounded, Anadolu reported.

The fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan is the latest flare-up centred around the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. The battles have threatened to expand beyond the breakaway state, which is located within Azerbaijan’s borders but controlled by ethnic Armenians.

Putin, whose country enjoys good relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan, held a series of phone calls with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, inviting their foreign ministers to peace talks, mediated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the Kremlin said in statement, according to Anadolu.

Putin also called for a halt to hostilities “on humanitarian grounds in order to exchange dead bodies and prisoners”, the Kremlin said.

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