Death toll in conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan reaches around 600

Death toll in conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan reaches around 600
Armenia and Azerbaijan are locked in a deadly conflict (AP)

The reported death toll in clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh has reached around 600.

Nagorno-Karabakh military officials said 16 more of their servicemen had been killed in fighting on Tuesday, bringing total number of dead among military members to 532 since September 27, when the fighting started.

Azerbaijan has not disclosed its military losses, and the overall toll is likely to be much higher with both sides regularly claiming to have inflicted significant military casualties on one another.

Destroyed houses in Nagorno-Karabakh, in Ganja, Azerbaijan (AP)

Azerbaijani authorities said 42 civilians have been killed on their side in over two weeks. Nagorno-Karabakh human rights ombudsman Artak Beglaryan reported at least 31 civilian deaths in the breakaway region late on Monday. Hundreds more have been wounded.

The recent fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces broke out on September 27. More than two weeks of deadly clashes marked the biggest escalation of a decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, which lies in Azerbaijan but has been under control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since the end of a separatist war in 1994.

Both sides have repeatedly accused each other of attacks amid appeals from around the globe to end the hostilities and start peace talks.

Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers signed a ceasefire deal last week. The truce that took effect on Saturday was brokered by Russia, which has a security pact with Armenia. But Moscow has also cultivated warm ties with Azerbaijan and seeks to mediate in the conflict.

The truce, however, has been immediately challenged with both Armenia and Azerbaijan accusing each other of continued attacks in violation of the agreement.

On Tuesday, Azerbaijani officials have once again accused Armenian forces of shelling some of its regions, and Nagorno-Karabakh officials said Azerbaijan launched “large-scale military operations” along the front line.

Russia and the European Union have urged both sides to observe the ceasefire.

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