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Local residents examine an area destroyed in a night shelling attack in Nagorno-Karabakh. Photo: Sergei Bobylev\TASS via Getty Images

Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to a "humanitarian ceasefire" in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh beginning on Monday, the U.S. State Department said in a joint statement with the two countries' foreign ministers on Sunday.

The big picture: Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused each other of violating previous ceasefires — one announced on Oct. 10 and another on Oct. 17 — almost immediately after they took effect.

  • Hundreds of soldiers and dozens of civilians have been killed since the fighting began in late September.
  • The violence is the worst the region has seen in years, and began with coordinated air and missile attacks late last month from Azerbaijan, which claimed Armenian forces had been preparing an attack (Armenia denies that).

Details: Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to abide by the terms of a Russia-brokered Oct. 10 truce, beginning at 8am.local time (12am ET) on Monday, the U.S. State Department said.

  • The Oct. 10 ceasefire was intended to allow the two sides to exchange prisoners and recover bodies.
  • "The United States facilitated intensive negotiations among the Foreign Ministers and the Minsk Group Co-Chairs to move Armenia and Azerbaijan closer to a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," the State Department said on Sunday.
  • The OSCE Minsk Group, which is led by France, Russia and the U.S., said in a separate statement that it will meet again with the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan on Oct. 29.

The backstory: Nagorno-Karabakh is a mountainous region of about 150,000 people that is populated mainly by ethnic Armenians but lies within the borders of Azerbaijan.

  • The countries have both claimed the territory since the collapse of the Soviet Union, fought a war over it from 1992 to 1994, and stood on the precipice of further conflict since.
  • Previous skirmishes, though numerous, have left the stalemate largely unaltered — as has a peace process overseen by the U.S., France and Russia.

Go deeper

Updated Nov 10, 2020 - World

In photos: Coronavirus restrictions grow across Europe

A waiter stands on an empty street in downtown Lisbon on Nov. 9, after Portugal introduced a night-time curfew for 70% of the population, including the capital and also the coastal city of Porto. It'll last for at least two weeks, per the BBC. Photo: Patricia De Melo Moreira/AFP via Getty Images

Portugal and Hungary have become the latest European countries to impose partial lockdowns, with curfews going into effect overnight. Governments across the continent are imposing more restrictions in attempts to curb COVID-19 spikes.

The big picture: Over 9.2 million cases have been reported to the European Centre for Disease Control. Per the ECDC, France has the most (almost 1.8 million) followed by Spain (over 1.3 million) and the United Kingdom (nearly 1.2 million). The COVID death rate per 100,000 of the population is highest in the Czech Republic (25), followed by Belgium (19) and Hungary (10.4).

8 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.