The toll of Azerbaijan’s so-called “anti-terrorist operation” rises to at least 200 dead and 400 injured, according to human rights officials from the separatist region cited by the Reuters news agency. This Wednesday, Azerbaijan achieved a lightning victory over the separatists in the disputed territory. A ceasefire has been signed and Baku hopes that the territory will come under its authority.
The Azerbaijani operation in Nagorno Karabakh left a dramatic balance: at least 200 dead and 400 wounded, as announced by the Armenian separatists in the region.
According to Gegham Stepanian, defender of the Karabakh people, among the dead are ten civilians and among them, five children. There were also 40 civilians injured. On the other hand, Azerbaijani authorities announced two civilians killed during the operation.
According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, two soldiers from the Russian peacekeeping troops died this Wednesday when the vehicle in which they were traveling was shot at.
Azerbaijan’s powerful 24-hour operation, launched after the death of six people – including police and civilians – due to the explosion of mines planted by alleged Armenian “saboteurs”, finally led the Armenian separatists to agree to lay down their arms.
A ceasefire was reached in the region this Wednesday, September 20, after which negotiations will be held on the reintegration of this territory to Azerbaijan. Talks should begin this Thursday in the Azerbaijani city of Yevlakh.
“With the mediation of the command of the Russian peacekeeping forces, an agreement was reached on the complete cessation of hostilities” and “the withdrawal of the remaining units and servicemen of the Armenian armed forces” and “the dissolution and the complete disarmament of the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army formations,” the separatists’ presidency said in a statement.
This Wednesday, Armenia also accused Azerbaijani troops of opening fire on Armenian military positions near the border town of Sotk, about 140 kilometers from Nagorno-Karabakh. But Azerbaijan denied the allegations.
Azerbaijan claims victory
This decision represents an important victory for the Azerbaijani president, Ilham Aliev, who could lead the country to recover the region that is internationally recognized as part of its territory but which has been the scene of two wars between Azerbaijan and Armenia, one from 1988 to 1994. and another in autumn 2020.
Aliev assured that Azerbaijan had “restored its sovereignty” in this enclave populated by Armenians. He also said that Armenian forces had begun to hand over their weapons and leave the territory.
On the streets of Baku, the population greeted the announcements. “I think it’s a good thing for Azerbaijan,” Elbrus Sahverdiev told AFP on Wednesday.
This victory “will undoubtedly increase the popularity of Ilham Aliev” who will have to “fulfill his promise to guarantee the rights of Karabakh Armenians,” Chahin Hajiev, an independent Azerbaijani expert, stressed to AFP.
“We will turn Karabakh into a paradise,” Aliev said, stating that Armenians living in the enclave would be able to participate in Azerbaijani elections, receive state education and practice their Christian religion in the Muslim-majority country.
However, thousands of Armenians gathered at the airport in Stepanakert, the capital of Karabakh, trying to flee the region, with suspicion of Baku and fear of what may happen in the future. Around 120,000 people live in the enclave.
Demonstrations in Armenia
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian assured that Armenia did not participate in the ceasefire agreement signed by Baku and the Karabakhs. The leader was criticized for not sending aid to Nagorno-Karabakh during the recent offensive.
This Wednesday, thousands of protesters gathered in front of the Government headquarters, denouncing the prime minister’s lack of action in the face of a much more armed enemy. Police detained several people and called for order to be restored, threatening to take “special measures” if not.
Opposition parties called on Parliament to launch an “impeachment process” of the prime minister, according to Ichkhan Sagatelian of the Dashnak party. Pachinian “must go, he cannot lead the country,” one protester also told AFP.
Armenia denounced ethnic cleansing by Azerbaijan and several Armenian diplomats criticized the international community for tolerating “military ethnic cleansing” in the region.
Russia, which welcomed the ceasefire agreement, rejected the complaints on Wednesday. “For now there are no reasons to talk about ethnic cleansing,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said in statements to Russian public television.
In recent months, Armenia has complained that Russia, which has been its main ally and protector against Azerbaijan – backed in turn by Turkey – has diminished its efforts to protect Karabakh Armenians within the conflict.
This occurs in a context of rapprochement between Moscow and Ankara, which has played a key mediator role in trade issues during the war in Ukraine.
With EFE, Reuters, AFP
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