Azerbaijan enters territory ceded by Armenia after peace deal

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Azerbaijan’s president on Friday announced that his military had entered into and taken control of the Aghdam region, a territory ceded by Armenia in Russian-brokered peace deal last week that ended six weeks of military conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. 

“Today, with a feeling of endless pride, I am informing my people about the liberation of Aghdam,” Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in an address to the country, according to The Associated Press.

“Aghdam is ours!” he added. 

Aghdam is the first area to be handed over as part of the peace agreement, which stipulated that Armenia give control of some areas outside Nagorno-Karabakh’s borders to Azerbaijan. 

Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been controlled by Armenian forces since the end of a separatist war there in 1994, resulting in decades of tensions between the two nations. 

The most recent fighting, which began on Sept. 27, was the biggest escalation of the conflict, with the AP reporting that hundreds and potentially thousands of people had been killed. 

The U.S. helped negotiate a previous cease-fire between the countries last month, but the agreement fell apart within minutes.

On Friday, Aliyev said that Azerbaijan was able to take control over the Aghdam region “without a single shot [fired] or losses [suffered]” and called it a “great political success” that would not have been possible without military gains.

Following the peace agreement last week, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said the truce was achieved “basing on the deep analyses of the combat situation and in discussion with best experts of the field.” 

“This is not a victory, but there is not defeat until you consider yourself defeated. We will never consider ourselves defeated and this shall become a new start of an era of our national unity and rebirth,” he added. 

While the peace deal was largely celebrated in Azerbaijan, mass demonstrations erupted in the Armenian capital of Yerevan last week in opposition to the agreement. 

The AP reported that some ethnic Armenians had left the territories set to be handed over to Azerbaijan, setting their houses on fire in protest.

Tags Armenia Azerbaijan disputed territory Nagorno-Karabakh conflict Peace Deal Russia The Associated Press United States

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