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Monday, December 4, 2023

Azerbaijan holds army parade in Karabakh after offensive

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev oversaw a military parade in the main city of Nagorno-Karabakh Wednesday, weeks after his army recaptured the long-disputed region from Armenian separatists in a lightning offensive.

The president’s office released images of Azerbaijani troops and a military orchestra lined up formation in the central square of Khankendi, which Armenians referred to as Stepanakert.

It showed blue-red-green Azerbaijani flags hoisted in front of the building that once housed offices of Karabakh’s separatist leader, with an Azerbaijani emblem on top of the imposing Soviet-era edifice.

A presidency statement said first lady Mehriban Aliyeva, who is the tightly controlled nation’s First Vice President, and Aliyev’s son Heydar also attended the ceremony.

Baku and Yerevan fought two wars over Azerbaijan’s Armenian-populated enclave — in 2020 and the 1990s.

Wednesday marks the third anniversary of Azerbaijan’s crushing victory in a six-week war with Armenia, that saw Baku recapture swathes of its lands which Armenian forces had controlled for three decades.

In September, Baku launched an offensive to retake the rest of the region and after less than one day of fighting ethnic-Armenian separatist authorities laid down arms and agreed to reintegrate with Azerbaijan.

Almost the entire Armenian population of the region — more than 100,000 people — fled in the following days, sparking a major refugee crisis in Armenia.

Internationally mediated talks to achieve a comprehensive peace agreement between the arch-foe Caucasus neighbours have so far failed to produce a breakthrough.

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