ANKARA

Azerbaijani army operations to liberate territories occupied for nearly 30 years by Armenian forces continue, the country’s Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

Azerbaijani advances continue in Upper Karabakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory illegally occupied by Armenia since 1991.

“During the day of Oct. 21 and on the night of Oct. 22, combat operations in the Aghdere-Aghdam, Fizuli-Jabrayil, and Zangilan-Gubadli sections continued with varying intensity,” the ministry said in a statement.

It added that the defending units of the Armenian Armed Forces were forced to withdraw from important high ground and several positions, losing personnel and military vehicles.

“The D-20 battery of the 155th artillery regiment of the Armenian armed forces, located in the section of Khojavend, has a large number of wounded personnel,” it said, adding that there was a lack of vehicles for their evacuation and the roads were closed.

Underlining that the Armenian volunteers fled the northern part of the Hadrut settlement, it said they suffered heavy casualties, including the deaths and injuries of personnel, as a result of artillery strikes on the 5th mountain rifle regiment in the Aghdere section.

It also said the commander of the regiment’s 3rd battalion went missing, and the battalion’s chief of staff was killed.

The destruction of the underground shelter wreaked major losses among Armenian military personnel, it said.

Noting casualties among Armenian units in the 543rd regiment, the ministry said that the regiment commander was wounded, and that his deputy, battalion commander and his deputies, commanders of a mortar battery, and a company were killed.

With fighting continuing across the entire front, Azerbaijani troops control the operational situation, it added.

New clashes

Since fresh clashes erupted on Sept. 27, Armenia has continued its attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces, even violating humanitarian cease-fire agreements.

In two missile attacks on Ganja, a major Azerbaijani city far from the front line, Armenia killed some two dozen civilians, including children, and injured scores more.

On Oct. 15, Armenia targeted civilians at a cemetery in the western city of Tartar, killing four and injuring four others.

Over the past 10 days, Armenia has violated two humanitarian cease-fires in Upper Karabakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan.

Upper Karabakh conflict

Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Upper 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.

In total, 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 (OSCE) 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 new 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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