Associated Press Worldstream
August 3, 2004 Tuesday 4:30 PM Eastern Time
Nagorno-Karabakh enclave holds military exercises
Forces in Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh enclave on Tuesday began an
annual military exercise designed to test their combat-readiness, a
military official said. The exercise came amid concerns that war
could erupt again in the region a decade after a cease-fire.
A spokesman for the military in the mostly ethnic Armenian enclave,
which has been de facto independent since Azerbaijan’s forces were
driven out in 1994, said live ammunition would be used in the 10-day
exercise involving regular troops and reservists. He said it was also
aimed at improving coordination in “defensive battles and
Nagorno-Karabakh is under control of an internationally unrecognized
ethnic Armenian government, and its forces also hold several sectors
of Azerbaijan outside of Nagorno-Karabakh itself. Sporadic firing
takes place across the demilitarized zone that separates the forces.
With no settlement in sight 10 years after a cease-fire ended a war
that killed some 30,000 people and drove about a million from their
homes, there are fears a new armed conflict could erupt. Azerbaijani
President Ilham Aliev has expressed frustration with the stagnation
and has raised the prospects of military action.