The Azerbaijani city of Shusha has been liberated from the occupation of Armenian forces, the country’s leader announced on Sunday.
“After 28 years, the adhan [call to prayer] will be heard in Shusha,” Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in his address to the nation.
Shusha has critical importance in liberating the occupied Upper Karabakh region.
“We proved to the world Upper Karabakh is historical Azerbaijani lands,” he said.
“Our victory march continues. If the Armenian leadership does not respond to my demands, we will go till the end,” Aliyev said in his speech in the Alley of Martyrs in the capital Baku.
Shusha was occupied by Armenia on May 8, 1992.
Fresh clashes broke out on Sept. 27, and since then Armenia has repeatedly attacked Azerbaijani civilians and forces, even violating three humanitarian cease-fire agreements since Oct. 10.
To date, at least 92 civilians have lost their lives, including 11 children and infants, and some 404 people, with at least 36 children among them, have been injured in recent attacks by Armenian forces, according to Azerbaijan’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office.
Some 3,064 houses and 100 multi-apartment residential buildings have been destroyed, while 504 civilian facilities have been damaged.
The latest US-brokered temporary humanitarian cease-fire between Azerbaijan and Armenia went into effect on Oct. 26. However, it was short-lived, as only a few minutes after it got effective, Armenian forces again violated the truce.
The first armistice, reached on Oct. 10, was violated within 24 hours as Armenian missile attacks on the Azerbaijani city of Ganja claimed many civilian lives.
Another truce on Oct. 17 was also violated by Armenia troops.
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, and neighboring regions.
About 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory – including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions – has been under illegal Armenian occupation for nearly three decades.
While world powers have called for a sustainable cease-fire, Turkey has supported Baku’s right to self-defense and demanded the withdrawal of Armenia’s occupying forces.
Multiple UN resolutions also call for the withdrawal of the invading forces.
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