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Nagorno-Karabakh fighting enters 3rd day; world leaders urge talks

Nagorno-Karabakh fighting enters 3rd day; world leaders urge talks
A photo made available by the Armenian Foreign Ministry shows a car damaged after fighting in Stepanakert of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region on Tuesday. Photo by Armenian Foreign Ministry/EPA-EFE

Sept. 29 (UPI) -- Fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh continued for a third day Tuesday as appeals for a cease-fire were issued by international leaders.

An Azerbaijani defense ministry spokesman said its forces had repelled Armenian attacks in night battles along the line of contact between the two sides, destroying Armenian military equipment and personnel.

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Defense Ministry Vagif Dargahli told local media that Armenian armed forces attacked its positions in the Fizuli district but were forced to retreat, leaving behind the bodies of slain Armenian soldiers.

An entire Armenian motorized rifle regiment "was completely destroyed" in the battle, Dargahli said, killing at least 10 Armenian soldiers.

RELATED Armenia, Azerbaijan renew clashes over contested Nagorno-Karabakh region

Armenia, meanwhile, also reported fighting throughout the night and said that Nagorno-Karabakh's army had turned back attacks from several directions along the line of contact.

"At this moment, the units of the Defense Army are confidently repelling all the attempts of the enemy attacks, causing heavy losses of equipment and manpower," the Armenian defense ministry said.

Armenia claimed Azerbaijani armed forces fired on a unit in the border town of Vardenis -- many miles away from the Nagorno-Karabakh region -- after earlier denying Azerbaijani claims that Armenian forces had fired rockets into the Dashkesan region of Azerbaijan.

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Yerevan said Tuesday that a Turkish F-16 fighter supplying cover for the alleged assault on Vardenis shot down an Armenian Su-25 attack aircraft, killing the pilot.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev said 10 Azerbaijani civilians had been killed since fighting began on Sunday, the Russian news agency Interfax reported.

World leaders on Tuesday expressed alarm at the scale of the fighting and urged negotiations to prevent a wider war. Armenia and Azerbaijan have long clashed over the breakaway region, which is located within Azerbaijan's borders but claims allegiance to Armenia.

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Russia urged Turkey to use its influence with Baku to bring an end to deadly clashes.

"We call on all sides, especially partner countries such as Turkey to do all they can for a cease-fire and get back to a peaceful settlement of this conflict using political and diplomatic means," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo each called on both sides to stop the violence, while Pompeo and French President Emmanuel Macron urged the two sides to meet with the Minsk Group -- an international task force created in 1992 to find a peaceful resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh stalemate.

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