Հայ-թուրքական հարաբերությունների շուրջ
Azerbaijan on Tuesday launched sniper lessons for young people, including girls, amid its bitter, unresolved conflict with neighboring Armenia in which marksmen are often used on the front line.
Teenagers as young as 16 are taking part in the sniper courses for civilians, which have an upper age limit of 30, and participants will also learn about fighting techniques, weaponry, map-reading skills and legal issues.
“This is to develop feelings of bravery and courage in young people, which will turn a teenager into a bold, fearless soldier in the future,” Walid Gardashov of Azerbaijan’s Voluntary Military-Patriotic Sport-Technical Society, which is organizing the lessons, told AFP.
The training sessions are free for schoolchildren under the age of 18, while older participants must pay $63.
More than 100 young civilians including several girls applied to take part, and 24 of them were selected for the first round of lessons, Gardashov said.
Azerbaijan and Armenia both deploy snipers on the front line in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, where ethnic Armenian forces backed by Yerevan seized control from Baku during a war in the early 1990s that left around 30,000 people dead.
Deadly skirmishes are commonplace along the Karabakh front line amid rising tensions, bellicose rhetoric and stalled peace talks.
The Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe, or OSCE, which leads international efforts to find a solution to the unresolved conflict, last month called on both sides to withdraw their snipers after the reported shooting of an Azerbaijani child.
But neither side agreed, and Armenian forces strongly denied killing the 9-year-old boy.
Gardashov said the young people on Azerbaijan’s new sniper course would be strictly told never to shoot at civilians.