SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The U.N. human rights chief said on Monday artillery strikes in the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh could amount to war crimes and she urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to halt attacks on civilian areas, schools and hospitals.
Despite a dealt reached in Geneva last Friday by Armenia and Azerbaijan to refrain from deliberately targeting civilians, artillery salvoes against populated areas were reported over the weekend, Michelle Bachelet said, citing strikes on the central market in Stepanakert and the city of Tartar.
“While many faked images have been circulating on social media, in-depth investigations by media organizations into videos that appeared to show Azerbaijani troops summarily executing two captured Armenians in military uniforms uncovered compelling and deeply disturbing information,” Bachelet said in a statement said, noting it could also be a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.
Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is populated and controlled by ethnic Armenians. About 30,000 people were killed in a 1991-94 war in the region.
Azerbaijan’s recent advances on the battlefield, which also extends to seven surrounding regions, have reduced its incentive to strike a lasting peace deal and complicated international efforts to broker a truce.
The conflict has also brought into sharp focus the increased influence of Turkey, an ally of Azerbaijan, in a former Soviet region considered by Russia to be within its sphere of influence. Russia also has a security alliance with Armenia.