BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Azerbaijan and Armenia on Monday both reported more losses in a sharp escalation of fighting over the South Caucasus region Nagorno-Karabakh, with 18 soldiers now confirmed dead.
The Azerbaijani region and some adjacent territory have been under the control of Armenian soldiers and ethnic Armenian local troops since the end of a six-year separatist war in 1994. Both sides report frequent shootings and attempted incursions along the cease-fire line, but the latest outbreak of fighting has been the worst in many years.
Russia, the United States, the European Union and the U.N. secretary-general have all expressed concern and urged both sides to respect the cease-fire.
Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry said Monday that 13 soldiers were killed in the fighting that spiked over the weekend, while Nagorno-Karabakh's armed forces said five of its soldiers were killed.
It was not immediately clear what set off the latest violence between the former Soviet republics, with each side accusing the other of being the aggressor.
Armenia's prime minister said the presidents of the two countries were expected to meet at the end of the week in Sochi, Russia, although this has not been confirmed by Azerbaijan. Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan would have separate meetings in Sochi with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
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