Nagorno-Karabakh region says 26 more troops killed in fighting with Azeri forces

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The Nagorno-Karabakh breakaway region said on Monday that at least 26 more of its servicemen had been killed in fighting with Azerbaijan's forces.

Fighting escalated sharply on Monday between Azerbaijan and its ethnic Armenian mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, as the two sides pounded each other with rockets and artillery in the fiercest round of the decades-old conflict in more than a quarter of a century.

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The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry claimed Armenian forces shelled the town of Tartar, while Armenian officials said the fighting continued overnight and Baku resumed “offensive operations" in the morning.

Azerbaijani military officials told the Interfax news agency that over 550 Armenian troops have been “destroyed (including those wounded)” in a claim that Armenia denied.

According to officials in the predominantly Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, 58 servicemen on their side have been killed so far. The territory's Defense on Sunday also reported two civilian deaths — a woman and her grandchild.

About 200 troops have been wounded, but many were only slightly hurt and have returned to action, the Armenian Defense Ministry said. Azerbaijani authorities said nine civilians were killed and 32 wounded on their side. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said Sunday there were losses among Baku's forces, too, but he didn't elaborate.

The heavy fighting broke out Sunday in the region that lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by the Yerevan government since 1994 at the end of a separatist war.

Azerbaijan said it destroyed two Armenian tanks, and Nagorno-Karabakh's Defense Ministry reported that Baku “lost 10 armored vehicles in a tank battle.”

The Armenian Defense Ministry said that, while the fighting continued, “all offensives of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces were successfully suppressed, the enemy was thrown back" and suffered losses.

Nagorno-Karabakh — a region in the Caucasus Mountains about 4,400 square kilometers (1,700 square miles) or about the size of the U.S. state of Delaware — is 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Armenian border. Soldiers backed by Armenia also occupy some Azerbaijani territory outside the region.

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