Army Head Warns Azerbaijan

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–The chief of the Armenian army staff–Colonel-General Mikael Harutiunian–said on Monday that there exist no tensions on the contact line established by the 1994 ceasefire agreement in the Mountainous Karabagh war–saying that hostilities have come only in the form of announcemen’s by Azerbaijan’s president–head of parliament–as well as defense minister. He stressed–however–that if Azerbaijan is bent on resuming the war–then they will pay dearly–and risk losing vast territories.

Speaking during Victory Day celebrations and ceremonies marking the 13th anniversary of the liberation of the Shushi from Azerbaijan–Harutiunian said–"I would advise Azerbaijan’s leadership to be reserved with their aggressive militaristic announcemen’s–which adversely and mechanically affect servicemen and the military leadership–and heighten tensions.

He also denied Azeri claims that dozens of Armenian soldiers have been killed there in recent weeks. "They wish we had lost many soldiers," Harutiunian told RFE/RL. "There have indeed been a few cases of our soldiers dying or getting wounded. "But the figures cited by them are mere propaganda and blackmail."

Harutiunian also reiterated Armenian claims that Azerbaijani troops have been moving closer to Karabagh Armenian positions. "We see no point in moving our positions because we already control the main heights which we took ten years ago," he said. "They probably need to do that because they had left their weapons behind and run away [during the war]. They probably felt that they need to improve their positions. In any case–we are taking adequate measures in response."

Meanwhile–three Azerbaijani soldiers that were captured the Armenia’s in northeastern Karabagh last February–after crossing the frontline–were handed back to the Azerbaijani military on Saturday. Azerbaijani media quoted officials in Baku as saying that they were not harmed during their detention.

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