BAKU, Azerbaijan

Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh violated cease-fire and martyred four Azerbaijani soldiers last week, Azerbaijani officials said on Sunday.

Some Armenian soldiers remained in the forest area of Hocavend province despite agreeing to withdraw, the Defense Ministry and the State Security Service said in a joint statement.

The press release said Baku met all the conditions for the withdrawal of all armed groups, and Russia as well asked them to leave the area through loudspeakers.

Instead of leaving the region, Armenian forces have fortified their positions, and are attacking both Azerbaijani soldiers and civilians.

Armenian forces attacked Azerbaijani soldiers in Hocavend’s Sur village, martyring three soldiers and wounding two civilians, the statement said.

Separately, it added, a soldier was martyred and civilian near the Hadrut town on Dec. 8.

The State Security Service had to carry out an anti-terrorist operation in the region after the attacks, it said.

Karabakh conflict

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

When new clashes erupted on Sept. 27, the Armenian army launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces and violated several humanitarian cease-fire agreements.

During the 44-day conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages from occupation.

The two countries signed a Russian-brokered agreement on Nov. 10 to end fighting and work toward a comprehensive resolution.

The truce is seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia, whose armed forces have been withdrawing in line with the agreement.

*Writing by Havva Kara Aydin in Ankara

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