’Azerbaijan Kills 11 Captured Armenian soldiers, 70 Detained’
By Stefan J. Bos, Special Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – Eleven Christian Armenian prisoners of war have been killed by their Azerbaijani captors in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, despite the presence of Russian peacekeepers, aid workers told Worthy News.
Also, over 70 Armenian soldiers were reportedly taken captive after Azerbaijan violated the Russian-brokered ceasefire deal, which was supposed to end clashes on November 10.
Video footage emerged on December 15 showing the shooting of eleven prisoners, said Barnabas Fund, the Christian aid, and advocacy group. It also cited local contacts in the region. Worthy News saw footage of at least one man being shot and numerous dead bodies. No more details about the exact time and place of the reported executions were immediately available.
Separately Worthy News witnessed footage of an anxious man tied near a fence being kicked four times in his face and beaten on his head by an apparently shouting Azerbaijani soldier. Azerbaijan did not comment.
However, the alleged atrocities came as a setback for Russia’s peacekeeping mission, which reportedly negotiated the return of 44 Armenian prisoners of war as part of a separate prisoner exchange.
The reports added to anxiety among “Christian Armenians who were already forced to shelter from Azerbaijani bombings before the prior November ceasefire deal,” Barnabas Fund said.
Azerbaijani forces also took control of four Armenian villages beside the territory gained during the fighting from September to November this year, Christians explained.
The incidents came amid allegations of Azerbaijani war crimes during the fighting, including the beheading of two older men. There was also a widely documented attack on Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in the town of Shushi in recent months
Additionally, Azerbaijani soldiers were accused of atrocities such as defiling corpses and desecrating graves during their advance.
Last week Azerbaijan detained four soldiers suspected of involvement in war crimes. The Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan said the servicemen were accused of defiling Armenian soldiers’ bodies, “inhumanely” mistreating Armenian troops, and defacing gravestones belonging to Armenians.
Azerbaijan has also accused Armenia of war crimes during the recent conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, including killing civilians while targeting towns. The claims it lost nearly 3,000 people in the fighting most of the troops and some civilians.
Neighboring Armenia ended this week three days of mourning to honor the roughly 3,000 Armenians who officials said died in the recent conflict fighting with Azerbaijan. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, accused of mishandling the conflict, faces growing calls to step down.
Although nominally within the borders of Muslim-majority Azerbaijan, the region is populated by Armenian Christians. Since the end of the first Nagorno-Karabakh war in the 1990s, which killed some 30,000 people, the region was self-governed by ethnic Armenians.
The November ceasefire deal required Armenia to cede large areas of the Nagorno-Karabakh region to Azerbaijan. “This includes areas with gold deposits, and Azerbaijan will likely seek to begin mining operations,” added Barnabas Fund, citing contacts in the area.
“The ceasefire agreement has also created the possibility of a land corridor through Armenian territory linking Azerbaijan with Turkey,” it added.
It comes amid broader concerns about the cooperation between Azerbaijan and Turkey, said Barnabas Fund. “The ongoing conflict has raised fears about the ambitions of Azerbaijan and Turkey, as well as the possibility of a regional pan-Turkic war and a new Armenian genocide.”
Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed around World War I, and many scholars see it as the 20th century’s first genocide. Turkey disputes the description, saying the toll was inflated and considering those killed victims of a civil war.
Last year, the U.S. Congress voted overwhelmingly to recognize the century-old mass killings of mainly Christian Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide. That angered Turkey, an ally in the NATO military alliance.
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