ANKARA/BAKU

The Azerbaijani army has liberated nine more villages in the Upper Karabakh region from Armenia’s occupation, Azerbaijan’s president announced Friday.

“Victorious Armed Forces of Azerbaijan have liberated Khudaverdili, Gurbantepe, Shahveledli and Khubyarli villages of Jabrayil, Aladin and Vejneli villages of Zengilan, Kavdadig, Memer and Mollali villages of Gubadli. Long live Azerbaijan’s Armed Forces! Karabakh is Azerbaijan!” Aliyev said on Twitter.

Since clashes broke out on Sept. 27, Armenia has repeatedly attacked Azerbaijani civilians and forces, even violating three humanitarian cease-fire agreements since Oct. 10.

To date, at least 91 civilians have lost their lives — including 11 children and 27 women — while 400 people — including at least 14 babies, 36 children, 101 women — have been injured in attacks by Armenian forces. A total of 2,442 homes and 92 apartment buildings and 428 public buildings have become unusable, said Azerbaijan’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office.

Nearly 3-decade occupation

Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Upper Karabakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh.

Four UN Security Council resolutions and two from the UN General Assembly as well as international organizations demand the “immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces” from occupied Azerbaijani territory.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) also refers to the territory as being under the occupation of Armenian forces.

About 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory — including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions — has been under illegal Armenian occupation for nearly three decades.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Minsk Group — co-chaired by France, Russia and the US — was formed in 1992 to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, but to no avail. A cease-fire, however, was agreed to in 1994.

World powers including Russia, France and the US have called for a sustainable cease-fire. Turkey, meanwhile, has supported Baku’s right to self-defense and demanded the withdrawal of Armenia’s occupying forces.

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