Karabakh combatants begin surrendering equipment, arms: Moscow
Nagorno-Karabakh combatants say they are in Russian-mediated talks with Baku to organize the withdrawal process and the return of civilians displaced by the fighting.
Moscow said the Nagorno-Karabakh combatants had surrendered six armored vehicles and more than 800 firearms so far.
"As of 22 September, six armoured vehicles, more than 800 small arms and anti-tank weapons, and about 5,000 rounds of ammunition were surrendered," Russian peacekeepers confirmed.
Earlier on Friday, the combatants said they were negotiating the withdrawal of their troops from the region after Azerbaijan reclaimed control in a swift military operation.
Azerbaijan on Thursday held a first round of "reintegration" talks with the Armenian Karabakh combatants after they agreed to lay down their weapons against the backdrop of the day-long military offensive.
The combatants said they were in Russian-mediated talks with Baku to organize the withdrawal process and the return of civilians displaced by the fighting.
Reuters reported that Azerbaijan is contemplating the potential implementation of an amnesty for Nagorno-Karabakh combatants who voluntarily surrender their arms.
The news agency cited Hikmet Hajiyev, a foreign policy advisor to Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev, as saying that Baku is open to permitting the departure of combatants who have chosen to lay down their weapons.
The combatants said the sides were discussing the procedure for citizens' access to and from Nagorno-Karabakh, where up to 120,000 ethnic Armenians live.
"Negotiations are underway with the Azerbaijani side under the auspices of Russian peacekeepers to organise the withdrawal process of troops and to ensure the return to their homes of the citizens displaced by military aggression," they confirmed in a statement.
Ahead of the latest conflict, Azerbaijan had imposed a de facto nine-month blockade, piling pressure on the region. Baku said it had started sending in urgently needed aid on Friday as it seeks to cement its grip over the region it lost control of in a war in the 1990s.
Hajiyev announced that Baku had assured the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) it could send in assistance and help evacuate wounded fighters.
The ICRC said it had evacuated nine wounded people on Friday.
"Residents have also approached the ICRC to help evacuate the bodies of deceased relatives," it added in a statement.
Nagorno-Karabakh has been at the center of more than three decades of conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan since the Soviet Union collapsed.
Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said the "situation remains tense" in the disputed territory despite the Russian-brokered truce deal largely sticking.
"There is a hope for some positive dynamics," he told a cabinet meeting.
"I don't rule out that more humanitarian aid will be delivered to Nagorno-Karabakh... There are some agreements, they must start implementing these," he added.
Yerevan said it does not foresee a large-scale influx of refugees for now but is ready to receive 40,000 families if needed.
Azerbaijan said Thursday that the first round of peace talks had been "constructive", and both sides expressed readiness for further negotiations.
But in Armenia, the surrender of the combatants put further pressure on Pashinyan, who has faced harsh criticism for making concessions to Azerbaijan since losing swathes of territory in a six-week war in 2020.
Police confirmed 98 people were arrested as anti-government demonstrators blocked streets in Yerevan on Friday for a third day of protests against the premier's handling of the conflict.