International Red Cross condemns shelling of residential areas in Nagorno-Karabakh

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GENEVA, October 4. / TASS /. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) strongly condemned the indiscriminate shelling of populated areas during the armed confrontation in the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. In a statement released in Geneva on Sunday, he recalled that the use of explosive weapons in residential areas could constitute a violation of humanitarian law.

“The ICRC strongly condemns the reported indiscriminate shelling and other alleged illegal attacks with explosive weapons in cities, towns and other residential areas where civilians are losing their lives and suffering grievous injuries,” said ICRC regional director for Eurasia Martin Schuepp. “All possible measures must be taken to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure such as hospitals, schools and markets,” he said. Water sources for the civilian population are also protected, Schuepp said. “These are the responsibilities under international humanitarian law,” the regional director said.

As the ICRC recalled, in recent days "the use of heavy weapons and explosive weapons in populated areas" in Nagorno-Karabakh has increased. According to the organization, "Hundreds of homes and key infrastructure such as hospitals and schools have been destroyed or damaged by heavy artillery fire and aerial attacks, including rockets." Other infrastructure facilities were also damaged, including roads, gas, electricity and communications networks. "The use of explosive weapons against military targets in residential areas may violate humanitarian law, which prohibits indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks," the ICRC said. The Red Cross believes that the use of such weapons in residential areas should be avoided unless steps are taken to reduce the risk of harm to the civilian population.

The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh escalated on September 27, and there are battles on the line of contact. Martial law was introduced in Azerbaijan and Armenia, and mobilization was announced. The parties reported killed and wounded, including among the civilian population.

Baku and Yerevan have disputed the ownership of Nagorno-Karabakh since February 1988, when the region announced its secession from the Azerbaijan SSR. During the 1992-1994 armed conflict, Azerbaijan lost control of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions. Since 1992, negotiations have been underway on a peaceful settlement of the conflict within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group, headed by the three co-chairs – Russia, the United States and France.

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