Azerbaijan’s defence ministry says around 40 Armenian armed forces illegally entered 400 metres into its territory in the direction of Kalbajar region’s Armudlu village on the border.

In this December 21, 2020 file photo, Azerbaijani soldiers walk near their military vehicles at the Kalbajar district, Azerbaijan.
In this December 21, 2020 file photo, Azerbaijani soldiers walk near their military vehicles at the Kalbajar district, Azerbaijan. (Reuters)

Azerbaijan's defence ministry said around 40 Armenian military personnel had crossed into the country's territory on Tuesday evening and were forced to retreat, allegations denied by the Armenian side.

Both countries accused each other last month of sending troops across the border in separate incidents, highlighting the fragility of a Russian-brokered ceasefire that halted six weeks of fighting between ethnic Armenian forces and the Azerbaijan army last year.

"As a result of urgent actions taken by the Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Armenian armed forces were withdrawn from the territory of our country," Azerbaijan's defence ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

"No weapons were used by our armed forces during the withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces...," it added, describing Armenia's move as a "provocation".

READ MORE: Is there a path towards peace in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict?

November 10 ceasefire

Armenia rejected the accusations, describing its neighbour's claims as "disinformation".

"Such disinformation is disseminated by Azerbaijan's military and political leadership to impress the international community," Russia's TASS news agency cited Armenia's defence ministry as saying.

Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

The conflict between the two flared up last year and six weeks of fighting ended with a Russian-brokered truce on November 10.

During that time, Azerbaijan liberated several strategic cities and nearly 300 of its settlements and villages that had been under Armenian occupation for some three decades.

The November 10 ceasefire is seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia, whose forces withdrew from the region in line with the agreement.

A joint Turkish-Russian centre was established to monitor the ceasefire, with Russian peacekeeping troops also deployed in the region.

READ MORE: Joint Turkey-Russia centre begins monitoring Karabakh truce

Source: Reuters