Azeri Troops Capture Armenians Inside Armenia, Tensions Rise

05/28/2021 Nagorno-Karabakh (International Christian Concern) –  On May 12, Azerbaijani forces advanced into Syunik, Armenia by 3.5 kilometers. Since then, 500-600 Azerbaijani troops remain on Armenian territory after several border incidents in Syunik and Gegharkunik. To date, attempts to address the situation peacefully has yielded no result as Azerbaijani representatives failed to show up for the scheduled May 19 peace talks.

On May 25, Armenia’s Ministry of Defense announced that one soldier had been killed by Azerbaijan as a result of border clashes, a claim that Azerbaijan denies. Several videos circulating social media show Azeri soldiers chasing Armenians off of Armenian land. Standoffs occurred in Gegharkunik Province as well, culminating with six Armenian soldiers being captured inside their own territory. Armenia claims that the soldiers were carrying out engineering work in the border region while Azerbaijan accused the Armenians of attempting to cross into Azeri territory.

The United States State Department spokesman said, “We also continue to call on Azerbaijan to release immediately all prisoners of war and other detainees, and we remind Azerbaijan of its obligations under international humanitarian law to treat all detainees humanely.”  While Armenia attempts to negotiate for their release, many more prisoners of war from the Nagorno-Karabakh War remain in prison in Baku, some standing trial on terrorism charges.

Armenia’s Prime Minister Pashinyan called upon the CTSO, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, of which Russia is a part. Land plots were delegated to Russian control for border guards in Kapan, Meghri, and Tegh on May 27 to allow for the protection of Armenia’s southeastern border, in agreement with the November 9 tripartite agreement. The Armenian CSTO representative Viktor Biyagov commented “Azerbaijan will bear the entire responsibility for further escalating the situation in the event that it fails to pull back its troops as soon as possible within a reasonable timeframe.”

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