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Karabakh deal fuels confusion

November 23, 2020 00:00:00

ASKERAN, Nov 22 (AFP): An Armenian fighter in camouflage with a Kalashnikov assault rifle slung over his shoulder peers through binoculars over towards an encampment of Azerbaijan troops.

The rugged valley in Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh region delineates the new and ambiguous border that separates the Armenian fighters and Azerbaijan forces after a recent peace deal ended weeks of fierce clashes.

But wedged in the no man's land between the soldiers is the pomegranate farm planted a decade ago by Vardges Harutyunyan, who is nervous he will not be able to harvest the fruit this year.

"Now Azerbaijani soldiers are standing there," Harutyunyan, 64, tells AFP, looking toward the rows of carefully tended trees in the distance.

Clashes erupted in late September between separatists backed by Armenia who had held the territory for some 30 years and Azerbaijan's army determined to wrest the mountainous region back under its control.

Several thousand were killed and many more displaced in the six weeks of fighting that was brought to a halt by a Russia-brokered peace agreement that saw the Armenians cede swathes of territory captured by Azerbaijan.

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