ANKARA

The Azerbaijani army lost at least 2,881 soldiers during its operation to liberate Armenian-occupied territories in the Nagorno-Karabakh region and surroundings, the country’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.

The ministry updated the death toll of martyrs from the 44-day “Patriotic War” which started on Sept. 27, 2020 and ended on Nov. 10.

The number of martyrs, previously announced as 2,855, was revised to 2,881 after learning of funerals and identities of the deceased.

Announcing that 28 servicemen were still missing, the ministry produced a list of soldiers who died as martyrs in the war.

“It should be noted that work is underway on finding and the identification of servicemen considered as missing,” the ministry said in a statement.

“May Allah rest the souls of all our Shehids [martyrs]! We bow our heads in front of our Shehids!” the statement added.

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

When new clashes erupted on Sept. 27 last year, Armenia launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces, and even violated several humanitarian cease-fire agreements.

During the six week-conflict, which ended with a Russian-brokered truce, Azerbaijan liberated several strategic cities and nearly 300 of its settlements and villages from Armenian occupation. The two countries signed a Russian-brokered agreement on Nov. 10 to end the fighting and work toward a comprehensive resolution.

A joint Turkish-Russian center was established to monitor the truce. Russian peacekeeping troops have also been deployed in the region.

The cease-fire is seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia, whose armed forces have withdrawn in line with the agreement.

Violations, however, have been reported following the truce, with Armenian soldiers reportedly hiding in the mountainous enclave.

Before the recent conflict, about 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory had been under illegal Armenian occupation for nearly three decades.

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