Azerbaijan has liberated the city of Fuzuli and seven surrounding villages from Armenian occupation, the country’s leader said early Saturday. 

“Azerbaijan’s glorious Army has liberated the villages of Gochehmedli, Chimen, Chuvarli, Pirehmedli, Musabeyli, Ishigli, and Dedeli of the Fuzuli district and the city of Fuzuli,” President Ilham Aliyev said on Twitter.

“Long live Azerbaijan’s Army! Karabakh is Azerbaijan!” he added, referring to efforts to liberate Upper Karabakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh, from nearly 30 years of Armenian occupation

Separately, in an address to the nation, Aliyev said: “The city of Fuzuli was liberated from the occupiers. Fuzuli is ours! Karabakh is Azerbaijan! I cordially congratulate all the people of Azerbaijan on this occasion.”

Hikmet Hajiyev, an aide to Aliyev, wrote on Twitter that Armenia’s strongest fortified defense line had been shattered.

“The liberation of Fuzuli will go down in the military history books,” he said.

Fuzuli and most of its villages were occupied by the Armenian army in 1993.

Saturday’s liberation followed overnight Armenian missile attacks on Ganja, Azerbaijan’s second-largest city, killing least 12 civilians, including two children, and injuring more than 40 others.

Upper Karabakh conflict

Since new clashes erupted between the two countries on Sept. 27, Armenia has continued its attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces.

Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Upper Karabakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan.

About 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory has remained under illegal Armenian occupation for nearly three decades.

The 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.

Multiple UN resolutions, as well as international organizations, demand the withdrawal of the occupying forces.

World powers, including Russia, France, and the US, have urged 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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