India has expressed concern over the clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the occupied Upper Karabakh region, which started in the early hours of Sept. 27 resulting in casualties on both sides.

“India is concerned over this situation which threatens regional peace and security. We reiterate the need for the sides to cease hostilities immediately, keep restraint and take all possible steps to maintain peace at the border,” said Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Anurag Srivastava in a statement to the media on Thursday.

He further said: “India believes that any lasting resolution of the conflict can only be achieved peacefully through diplomatic negotiations.”

“We support OSCE [the Organization for Security and Co-operation] Minsk Group’s continued efforts for a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan,”added the statement by the MEA.

Upper Karabakh conflict

Some 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory, including the Upper Karabakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh region, has remained under illegal occupation by Armenia for roughly three decades.

Four UN Security Council and two UN General Assembly resolutions as well as decisions by many international organizations refer to this fact and demand the withdrawal of Armenia’s occupying forces from Upper Karabakh and seven adjacent occupied regions of Azerbaijan.

The occupied Upper Karabakh region includes the towns of Shusha, Khankendi, Khojaly, Asgaran, Khojavand, Aghdara, and Hadrut.

The seven other occupied regions of Azerbaijan are the provinces surrounding the Upper Karabakh area, including Lachin, Kalbajar, Aghdam, Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Qubadli, and Zangilan.

During the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, over 1 million Azerbaijanis became internally displaced persons, while 20,000 were martyred in military operations and 50,000 were wounded and became disabled, according to Azerbaijan’s official figures.

At least 4,000 Azerbaijanis went missing during the conflict and their fate remains unknown.

More than 2,000 Azerbaijanis were captured and taken hostage by Armenian forces.

The OSCE Minsk Group — co-chaired by France, Russia, and the US — was formed in 1992 to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, but to no avail. A cease-fire, however, was agreed upon in 1994.

France, Russia and NATO, among others, have urged an immediate halt to clashes in the occupied region.

* Jeyhun Aliyev contributed to this report from Ankara.

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