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Red Cross Karabakh head urges rivals to spare civilians

Red Cross Karabakh head urges rivals to spare civilians

AFP
Barda, Azerbaijan
The head of a Red Cross mission monitoring the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict called on Thursday for all parties to stop shelling civilians and respect international law in fighting that has killed nearly 1,000 people.
Gerardo Moloeznik also told AFP that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) stood ready to help the bitter foes Azerbaijan and Armenia repatriate bodies for burial at home.
His comments came a day after Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan ruled out a diplomatic solution to the bloodiest clashes over the disputed region since a post-Soviet war killed 30,000 and ended in a fragile truce.
“We insist that the sides to the conflict comply with international humanitarian law,” Moloeznik said in an interview at the ICRC’s walled-off headquarters in Azerbaijan’s frontline region town of Barda.
“This is very important. They have to spare the lives of civilians, civilian infrastructure, because there have been situations in which they have been using heavy artillery in populated areas.”
Separatist forces have reported the deaths of nearly 40 civilians in the unrecognised Christian Armenian enclave of predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan.
The Azerbaijani civilian toll has surpassed 60 -- 25 of the deaths coming in two missile attacks that levelled rows of houses in the Caucasus country’s second city of Ganja.
Azerbaijan has been heavily shelling the separatist capital Stepanakert and other towns across the mountainous region of 140,000.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed two humanitarian truces since the latest fighting erupted on September 27.
Their main purpose was to give the sides a chance to exchange bodies and restart talks that could find a lasting solution to the conflict that has festered since Soviet times.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will also try calm hostilities when he hosts the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign minister for separate talks on Friday.

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