Saudi Arabia calls for ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan

In this image taken from footage released by Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, Azerbaijan's soldiers fire from a mortar at the contact line of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan. (AP)
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Updated 29 September 2020

Saudi Arabia calls for ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan

  • Turkey is accused of sending mercenaries to back Azerbaijan

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Monday joined international calls for a cease-fire as fierce fighting raged between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces, sparking hostile words from neighboring Turkey.
“We are following with great concern the developments of the situation between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We urge Armenia and Azerbaijan to cease-fire and resolve the conflict by peaceful means in accordance with the relevant (UN) Security Council resolutions,” an official Saudi statement said.
The EU warned regional powers not to interfere in the conflict and condemned the “serious escalation” that threatened regional stability.
In addition to the EU and Russia, France, Germany, Italy, and the US also urged a cease-fire.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia was monitoring the situation closely and that the current priority was to “stop the hostilities, not to deal with who is right and who is wrong.”
But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded Armenia end its “occupation” of Karabakh. “The time has come for the crisis in the region that started with the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh to be put to an end. Now Azerbaijan must take matters into its own hands,” he said.
Armenia has accused Turkey of meddling in the conflict and sending mercenaries to back Azerbaijan.
The clashes over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh are the heaviest since 2016, with reports of dozens of deaths and hundreds wounded.
Karabakh’s Defense Ministry said 27 fighters were killed in fighting on Monday, bringing their total military losses to 58.
The overall death toll rose to 67 including nine civilian deaths: Seven in Azerbaijan and two on the Armenian side.
Azerbaijan has not reported any military casualties, but Armenian separatist officials released footage showing burnt-out armored vehicles and the bloodied and charred remains of soldiers in camouflage it said were Azerbaijani troops.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Monday ordered partial military mobilization and Gen. Mais Barkhudarov vowed to “fight to the last drop of blood in order to completely destroy the enemy and win.”
Armenia’s ambassador to Moscow said Turkey had sent around 4,000 fighters from northern Syria to Azerbaijan and that they were fighting there, an assertion denied by an aide to Aliyev.
Armenia also said Turkish military experts were battling alongside Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous breakaway region of Azerbaijan run by ethnic Armenians, and that Turkey had provided drones and warplanes.
Concern that Turkey could get more involved in the conflict helped drag its currency to a record low against the dollar on Monday.
Turkey has already used Syrian fighters to help block an assault on Tripoli earlier this year by the eastern-based Libyan National Army forces of Khalifa Haftar.
Their latest deployment would create a third theater for Turkey’s regional rivalry with Moscow, which has a military base in Armenia, considers it a strategic partner in the South Caucasus, and supplies it with weapons.
Two Syrian rebels said Ankara was sending Syrian rebel fighters to support Azerbaijan. The two fighters, from Turkish-backed rebel groups in areas of northern Syria under Turkish control, said they were deploying to Azerbaijan in coordination with Ankara.
“I didn’t want to go, but I don’t have any money. Life is very hard and poor,” said a fighter who had fought in Syria for Ahrar Al-Sham, a group that Turkey has supported.
Both men said they had been told by their Syrian brigade commanders they would earn around $1,500 a month, a large wage for Syria where the economy and currency have collapsed.
The fighter said he had arranged his assignment with an official from the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) in Afrin, a region of northwest Syria seized by Turkey and its Syrian rebel allies two years ago.
The other fighter, from the SNA-affiliated Jaysh Al-Nukhba militia, said he had been told nearly 1,000 Syrians were set to be deployed to Azerbaijan. Other rebels gave figures of between 700 and 1,000.

Saudia to resume flights for 33 destinations in November

Updated 24 October 2020

Saudia to resume flights for 33 destinations in November

  • Regional destinations that include Dubai and Beirut will also resume next month
  • Saudia travellers who are going to the US will only be able to fly to Washington

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s national carrier Saudia announced it will resume flights to 33 destinations in November.

Destinations include major international capitals across Europe, Asia and Africa.

Regional destinations that include Dubai and Beirut will also resume next month.

Saudia travellers who are going to the US will only be able to fly to Washington.

The airlines said flights will only be available to passengers who are permitted to travel under Saudi Arabia’s coronavirus safety measures.

The airline resumed international flights to 20 destinations after months of travel disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, when authorities partially lifted the suspension of international flights on Sept. 15.

The Interior Ministry said it will end all restrictions on air, land and sea transport next year.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Saudia operated flights to more than 85 destinations worldwide.