Russian Federation warns that Nagorno-Karabakh could become Islamist militant stronghold

Russian Federation warns that Nagorno-Karabakh could become Islamist militant stronghold”

Armenia and Karabakh have declared martial law and military mobilisation, while Azerbaijan imposed military rule and a curfew in large cities.

Earlier Tuesday, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu urged world leaders to back Azerbaijan, questioning the point of a new ceasefire during a visit to Baku.

Fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces erupted on Sunday over a longstanding territorial dispute centering around Karabakh, with almost 200 people dead. Armenia effectively controls most of the geographical area, including parts still technically recognized as belonging to Azerbaijan.

Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia's SVR Foreign Intelligence Service, said the conflict was attracting people he described as mercenaries and terrorists from the Middle East.

Armenia and Azerbaijan are facing global pressure to deescalate tensions in the region, with the foreign ministers of Russian Federation, the United States and France saying the conflict represented an "unacceptable threat" to the region's stability.

Half of Nagorno-Karabakh's population have been displaced since fierce fighting erupted more than a week ago between Armenian troops and Azerbaijan, ethnic Armenian officials in the breakaway region said.

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AFP journalists heard explosions in the city after days of intermittent shelling and saw residents walking past an unexploded shell wedged in a street in the city center, which was strewn with glass and debris.

Turkey has been accused of sending Syrian fighters into the region in support of Azerbaijan, its longtime ally - a charge that Ankara denies. "All sides should immediately cease fighting and find a way forward towards a peaceful resolution", Stoltenberg said, after direct talks with Cavusoglu.

In an interview that is likely to exacerbate worldwide frictions over the clashes in the South Caucasus, which entered a 10th day on Tuesday, President Assad also said militants from Syria were being deployed to the conflict area.

Turkey has dismissed calls from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group, which is co-chaired by Russia, France and the United States, for an immediate cease-fire. Azerbaijan has not disclosed information about its military casualties.

For decades, Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in a simmering conflict over the Karabakh region, which broke away from Baku in a 1990s war that claimed 30,000 lives.

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