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Russia warns Nagorno-Karabakh risks becoming Islamist militant stronghold

Written by corres2

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The Kremlin on Tuesday warned that Nagorno-Karabakh can become ”a launch pad for Islamist militants” if the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict continues.

Moscow expressed alarm after the deadliest fighting in more than 25 years between ethnic Armenian and Azeri forces entered a tenth day.

Also see: Armenia and Azerbaijan: A decades-long bloody rivalry

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called for fighting to stop and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov voiced “serious concern about the unprecedented escalation” in a phone call with Iran’s foreign minister,

Turkey behind ‘war’

Earlier, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said Turkey’s “full support” motivated its ally Azerbaijan to reignite fighting in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

“While it is true that the leadership of Azerbaijan has been actively promoting bellicose rhetoric for the last 15 years, now the decision to unleash a war was motivated by Turkey’s full support,” the 45-year-old premier said. “Without Turkey’s active engagement this war would have not begun,” he added.

He stressed that the latest fighting is “not simply a new escalation of the Karabakh conflict,” a territorial decades-old dispute over the majority ethnic Armenian mountainous region between Armenia and Azerbaijan, a mainly Muslim Turkic country that is a close ally of Turkey.

The current conflict has seen the “active engagement of terrorist groups from the Middle East in the conflict zone,” Pashinyan said, describing the role of Armenian forces as a “counter-terrorism operation.”

Turkey has been accused of deploying fighters from Syria to support Azerbaijan in Karabakh. French President Emmanuel Macron claimed that “jihadists” had arrived in the region, accusing Turkey of crossing a “red line”.

Armenia also accuses Turkish forces of fighting directly in the region, and Pashinyan said Turkey’s F-16 fighter jets were “actively engaged” in the conflict.

Turkey has denied this and no firm evidence has been presented.

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