Civilians threatened as Azeris lose key town: Armenians drive towards Iranian border on eve of peace talks

MOSCOW - Armenian separatists took the key Azeri town of Dzhebrail, south of the disputed Nagorny Karabakh enclave, threatening to cut off thousands of civilians, Azeri authorities said yesterday.

The separatists took the town overnight, the Azeri defence ministry said, adding that a column of Armenian tanks was en route for the village of Goradiz in the direction of the Iranian border and about 10 kilometres (six miles) from Dzhebrail.

An Armenian commander said his forces had advanced to within less than a kilometre of the centre of Dzhebrail, where the Azeri forces were 'in total panic'. Armenian troops had also consolidated their hold on the Azeri town of Fizuli, another strategic cross-border target which was now completely surrounded, the commander said.

If both Dzhebrail and Fizuli fell to the separatists, some 250,000 Azeris living in the south-eastern border regions of Zangelan and Kubatly would effectively be cut off from the rest of Azerbaijan. Azeri forces launched a counter-offensive in the Kubatly region but were repulsed by Armenian troops, Azeri authorities said. Baku said the separatists had retaken the area in an attack from the Lachin corridor linking Armenia with Nagorny Karabakh.

The Dzhebrail attack preceded the implementation Wednesday evening of a new ceasefire accord, the Armenian commander said, adding that his troops 'have been ordered not to enter Dzhebrail or Fizuli'. In Stepanakert, the Armenian military leadership said the truce was holding apart from occasional gunfire. They confirmed their troops had completely surrounded Dzhebrail and Fizuli.

A fax in which Azerbaijan consented to the ceasefire agreement, was signed by Safar Abyev and Rasul Guliev, respectively Azerbaijan's interim Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. A second fax, signed by the acting President, Geidar Aliyev, instructed the two officials to undertake negotiations for a long- term settlement of the conflict.

Karen Baburian, the leader of the Nagorny Karabakh separatists, said his forces had 'received the order to cease all manoeuvres on the front line' following the ceasefire. The offensives mark the latest Armenian incursions into Azeri territory in defiance of international condemnation.

Under the ceasefire agreement, proposed by Azeri officials, both sides pledged 'to stop all offensive operations and to halt aerial and artillery bombardments'. The ceasefire accord covers an initial five-day period, during which both sides would agree to discuss a long-term peace accord.

The ceasefire agreement came hours after the Armenian defence ministry reported that two Azeri warplanes had bombed the south-eastern Armenian industrial town of Kafan, killing seven people and injuring about 30 in apparent retaliation for the Fizuli fighting.

Separatists in Nagorny Karabakh, which is mainly populated by ethnic Armenians, have been fighting for independence from Muslim Azerbaijan since 1988 in a war that has left some 10,000 dead.

(Map omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine