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Azeri forces accused of beheading elderly Armenian civilian

AZERBAIJAN was accused of war crimes today after video footage appeared to show the beheading of an elderly Armenian civilian pinned down by soldiers wearing Azeri uniforms.

It showed a group of soldiers wearing what is described as “the distinctive earless helmet of Azerbaijani special forces” restraining an elderly man. He is heard pleading for his life before his throat is slit.

According to the Zartonk Media organisation, the video was uploaded to a Telegram messaging-service channel belonging to Azeri soldiers on Monday.

It is not clear when the incident occurred, but the gruesome killing is believed to have taken place in the sector of Nagorno-Karabakh occupied by Azeri troops as part of a peace deal struck last month that brought an end to a conflict between the two nations over the disputed territory.

In October Azeri forces were accused of beheading an Armenian soldier and posting a photograph of his decapitated head on social media, taunting the victim’s family. 

Later the same month, the Council of Europe opened a war-crimes probe after video footage showed Armenian men Benik Hakobyan, 73, and 25-year-old Yuri Adamyan being shot, their arms tied behind their backs, by soldiers in Azeri uniforms.
Azerbaijan has dismissed the footage as fake and insists that its soldiers have not committed atrocities.

It is known that Turkey has shipped more than 2,000 jihadists from Syria to the region, with many fighting in Azeri army uniforms. More than 200 were killed during the Azeri military offensive while some 900 militants have returned to Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

With Azerbaijan having taken control of large swathes of land in the region following six weeks of fighting, some 2,000 Russian soldiers have been deployed as a peacekeeping force in the region.

The peace deal has led to growing anger among Armenians who blame Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan for the loss of territory. 
Protesters stormed the country’s parliament last month, branding Mr Pashinyan a traitor, and on Sunday the mayors of five cities in the Syunik region demanded his resignation in an open letter.

More than 34,500 Armenians have returned to the regional capital Stepanakert under the protection of Russian troops, the Kremlin said on Monday.


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