Armenia PM asks Putin to start talks on providing security amid Karabakh conflict

In this file photo taken on October 25, 2020 an Armenian soldier walks as troops hold positions on the front line during the ongoing fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. (File/AFP)
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Updated 31 October 2020

Armenia PM asks Putin to start talks on providing security amid Karabakh conflict

  • Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in a bitter conflict over Karabakh since Armenian separatists backed by Yerevan seized control of the mountainous province in a 1990s war

YEREVAN: Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has formally asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to begin “urgent” consultations on providing security amid a conflict with Azerbaijan, the foreign ministry said Saturday.
The announcement, which further raises the prospect of an escalation in the conflict, came after Armenia and Azerbaijan failed to agree a fresh cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict during talks in Geneva on Friday.
Russia has a military base in Armenia and has a defense treaty with Yerevan.
“The prime minister of Armenia has asked the Russian president to begin urgent consultations with the aim of determining the kind and amount of aid which the Russian Federation can provide Armenia to ensure its security,” the ministry said in a statement.
Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in a bitter conflict over Karabakh since Armenian separatists backed by Yerevan seized control of the mountainous province in a 1990s war that left 30,000 people dead.
The current clashes broke out on September 27 and fighting has persisted despite the repeated international attempts to secure a cease-fire.
Russia has previously said that its defense pact with Armenia does not extend to the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
But Pashinyan in his letter to Putin said that hostilities were getting closer to Armenia’s borders and reiterated that Azerbaijan’s ally Turkey was backing Baku, according to the statement.
He requested Moscow’s help, invoking the two countries’ close ties and a 1997 treaty on friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance.
The warring sides have three times agreed to cease-fires during talks mediated by Russia, France and the United States but the truces have all quickly fallen apart.
More than 1,200 people from both sides have been reported dead since the fighting began, but the actual death toll is believed to be substantially higher.
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CIA officer killed in Somalia: US media

Updated 27 November 2020

CIA officer killed in Somalia: US media

  • The US has some 700 troops training Somali forces and carrying out raids against Al-Shabab militants
  • Al-Shabab, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, is estimated to have between 5,000 and 9,000 fighters

WASHINGTON: A CIA officer was killed in combat in Somalia in recent days, US media said Thursday without releasing details of how the agent died.
The veteran officer was a member of the CIA’s Special Activities Center, a paramilitary branch that carries out some of the US intelligence agency’s most dangerous tasks, The New York Times said.
The officer died of injuries sustained during an operation last week, according to CNN.
The CIA has not commented publicly on the death.
Washington has some 700 troops deployed in Somalia carrying out training of Somali forces and conducting counter-terrorism raids against the Al-Shabab militant group, which Washington designated a terrorist movement in 2008.
Earlier this month, Washington put on its terror blacklist the leader of an elite unit of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated group blamed for a January attack in Kenya that killed three Americans.
Al-Shabab is estimated to have between 5,000 and 9,000 fighters who have vowed to overthrow the Somali government, which is supported by some 20,000 troops from the African Union.
The slain US operative was a veteran of special forces operations, having previously been a member of the elite SEAL Team 6, the Times reported.
The outgoing administration of President Donald Trump is considering withdrawing all US forces from Somalia by the time he leaves office in January, the paper added.
At the start of his term, Trump gave the Pentagon a freer hand to expand their operations, with both air strikes and ground raids, in the war-ravaged African country.
But an official report released in February said that “despite continued US air strikes in Somalia and US assistance to African partner forces, Al-Shabab appears to be a growing threat that aspires to strike the US homeland.”