BAKU, Azerbaijan

A cease-fire agreed between Azerbaijan and Armenia for the exchange of prisoners and retrieval of bodies in Nagorno-Karabakh came into force at 12 p.m. local time (0800GMT) on Saturday.

It came after a trilateral meeting took place on Friday in Moscow among Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, and Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan.

No information was given for the duration of the cease-fire made on humanitarian grounds.

The Red Cross will act as an intermediary during the humanitarian operation.

Fighting began on Sept. 27, when Armenian forces targeted civilian Azerbaijani settlements and military positions in the region, leading to casualties.

After the Armenian army attacked the Azerbaijani civil settlements on Sept. 27, the Azerbaijani army launched an operation, liberating the city of Jabrayil, the town of Hadrut, and more than 30 villages from occupation.

Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Upper Karabakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan.

Some 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory has remained under illegal Armenian occupation for some three decades.

Four UN Security Council and two UN General Assembly resolutions, as well as many international organizations, demand the withdrawal of the occupying 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 to in 1994.

Many world powers, including Russia, France and the US, have urged an immediate cease-fire.

Turkey, meanwhile, has supported Baku’s right to self-defense and demanded the withdrawal of Armenia’s occupying forces.

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