Azerbaijani leader hails handover of region by Armenia
AGHDAM, Azerbaijan — Azerbaijani forces entered the warravaged ghost town of Aghdam on Friday, regaining a oncebeloved city over a quarter of a century after being driven out by Armenian forces.
Aghdam and the surrounding region of the same name are the first of several territories adjacent to separatist Nagorno-Karabakh to be turned over under a ceasefire that ended six weeks of intense fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
“Today, with a feeling of endless pride, I am informing my people about the liberation of Aghdam,” Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in an address to the nation. “Aghdam is ours!”
Crowds of people carrying national flags gathered in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, to celebrate the handover.
Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994. That war left not only Nagorno-Karabakh itself but substantial surrounding territory in Armenian
Heavy fighting that flared up Sept. 27 marked the biggest escalation of the decadesold conflict between the two exSoviet nations in over a quartercentury, killing hundreds of people and possibly thousands more.
The agreement, celebrated as a victory in Azerbaijan, has left many Armenians bitter. Mass protests erupted in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, immediately after the peace deal was announced last week, and many ethnic Armenians have been leaving the territories that are to be handed over to Azerbaijan, setting their houses on fire in a bitter farewell gesture.
People in the Azerbaijan capital of Baku celebrate Armenia’s transfer of the warravaged ghost town of Aghdam.