Protesters blocked a California highway to draw attention to the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, according to reports.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Los Angeles on Saturday, waving Armenian flags and holding up placards demanding that the media pay attention to the conflict between neighboring nations, the LA Times reported.
Traffic on the freeway slowed in both directions around 9:30 p.m., California Highway Patrol Officer Don Conley said. At 10:15 p.m., protesters forced the highway to close.
Traffic started moving again after 11 p.m.
The Armenian Youth Federation had organized a protest earlier that day, having previously held one outside the Azerbaijani consulate that drew more than 1,000 people, CBS Los Angeles reported.
A clash on September 27 led Armenia to institute martial law and Azerbaijan to declare a state of war. Each nation has deployed troops in the hotly contested Nagorno-Karabakh region, with intense fighting “across the front line,” according to Armenian Defense Ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanian.
Each side accused the other of attacking civilians in what is arguably the most violent clash since a ceasefire between nations in 1994. Protests erupted in several countries, demanding special attention. conflict before it escalates.
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Some observers fear that the regional clash could escalate into a proxy war between Russia and Turkey – and even Iran – if other nations do not act.
“They are attacking innocent civilian villages. They are attacking the homes of innocent people, ”protester Eva Arakelyan told NBC Los Angeles.
“They’re trying to erase a whole race and the world is watching them, how can we not be moved about that?” Mariam Khachatryan, another protester, asked.
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Armenia has repeatedly claimed over the past week that Turkey has sent Syrian fighters to Azerbaijan and that the Turkish military is helping Azerbaijan in the conflict.
“Turkey and Azerbaijan are not only pursuing military-political goals,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on Saturday in a speech to his nation. “Their goal is Armenia, their goal is the continuation of the Armenian genocide.”
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Azerbaijan responded with accusations that thousands of ethnic Armenians from abroad were deployed or recruited to fight for Armenia.
“Armenia and the Armenian desapora organizations bear international legal responsibility for the organization of these terrorist activities,” said a statement from the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry.
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The Los Angeles metropolitan area has the largest population of Armenians outside of Armenia itself.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.