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Azerbaijan Stops Anti-Terror Measures in Karabakh Region, Armenian Army Formations Agree to Withdraw

By Gunay Hajiyeva September 20, 2023

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An Azerbaijani soldier stands on a rocky outcrop in Karabakh, Azerbaijan / Stringer / AFP via Getty Images

The Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan announced on Wednesday the end of the local counter-terrorism measures in the country’s Karabakh (Garabagh) region.

According to the ministry, the appeal by the representatives of the Armenian residents living in the Karabakh region, conveyed by the Russian peacekeeping command, was considered to cease the local anti-terror activities at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday.

The agreement was reached under the following terms:

  1. The formations of Armenia’s armed forces stationed in the Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan and illegal armed groups lay down their arms, withdraw from their battle positions and military outposts and are subjected to complete disarmament. The formations of Armenia’s armed forces leave the territory of Azerbaijan and illegal Armenian groups are disbanded.
  2. Simultaneously, all the ammunition and heavy military equipment is handed over.
  3. Conducting the abovementioned process in coordination with the Russian peacekeeping contingent is ensured.

The Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan announced that the meeting with the representatives of the Armenian residents living in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan to discuss the reintegration issues, based on the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan and its laws, will be held on 21 September 2023 in Yevlakh.

Azerbaijan Armed Forces launched on Tuesday local anti-terrorist measures to neutralize illegal Armenian armed formations and their military infrastructure in the Karabakh region.

The operation came on the heels of the intensifying attacks on the Azerbaijani positions and the recent deadly mine incidents in the Khojavand district killing four police officers and two road construction workers. Earlier on Tuesday, two servicemen of the Azerbaijani army stationed in the Aghdam district were wounded by the Armenian armed formations illegally deployed in the Azerbaijani territories temporarily monitored by the Russian peacekeeping contingent.

By the time of cessation of hostilities, the Azerbaijani military disabled artillery systems, radio-electronic warfare, military equipment, ammunition depots, military strongholds, and shelters of the Armenian army formations stationed in the Karabakh region. In video footage disseminated on social media networks, the Azerbaijani army was seen destroying a Russia-made “TOR” multiple-launch rocket system and a “Mortira” electronic warfare system of the Armenian military in the city of Khankendi.

In addition, more than 90 combat posts and strategically important positions of the Armenian military formations were taken under control during the one-day operation, Colonel Anar Eyvazov, a Spokesperson to the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, said at a press briefing on Wednesday. Seven military vehicles, 4 mortars, one tank, 2 infantry fighting vehicles, as well as a large number of weapons and ammunition were also captured as trophies.

The Defense Ministry reaffirmed that only legitimate military targets were incapacitated as part of the counter-terrorist measures in the Karabakh region, while the civilian population and civilian infrastructure facilities were not targeted.

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Armenia launched a full-scale military campaign against Azerbaijan, resulting in the longest and deadliest war in the South Caucasus region. The war ended in a ceasefire in 1994, with Armenia forcibly occupying 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories. This occupation led to the deaths of over 30,000 Azerbaijanis and the expulsion of one million others in a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign conducted by Armenia.

On September 27, 2020, the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia escalated when Armenian forces in the occupied Azerbaijani lands shelled military positions and civilian settlements of Azerbaijan. In a counter-attack that lasted 44 days, Azerbaijani forces liberated over 300 settlements, including the cities of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, and Shusha, effectively ending the nearly 30-year-long illegal Armenian occupation. The war concluded with a tripartite statement signed by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia on November 10, 2020. Under this statement, Armenia also returned the occupied districts of Aghdam, Kalbajar and Lachin to Azerbaijan.

The statement also called for an immediate withdrawal of the Armenian armed personnel from the Azerbaijani territories temporarily monitored by the Russian peacekeepers. However, Article 4 of the statement went unfulfilled.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry reported on Monday that Armenia’s more than 10 thousand-strong armed forces were present in those lands. More than a hundred tanks and other armored vehicles, over two hundred heavy artillery pieces, including multiple rocket launchers, dozens of different types of radio-electronic warfare equipment, as well as more than two hundred mortars were at their disposal.