President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan announced on Wednesday, September 20, that his nation had retaken control of the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. This came after Armenian fighters agreed to surrender in response to a military operation.

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said Wednesday his country had regained control over breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh, after Armenian fighters agreed to lay down their arms in the face of a military operation.

The stunning collapse of Armenian resistance represents a major “victory” for Aliyev in his quest to bring Armenian-majority Nagorno-Karabakh back under Baku’s control.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars over the mountainous region since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

A day after Azerbaijan launched a military operation in the region, Baku and the ethnic Armenian authorities in Karabakh announced a ceasefire deal had been brokered by Russian peacekeepers to stop the fighting.

Aliyev claimed that most of the Armenian forces in the region had been destroyed and said the withdrawal of Armenian troops had already begun.

Under the truce deal, the Armenian said they had agreed to fully dismantle their army and that Armenia would pull out any forces it had in the region.

Both sides said talks on reintegrating the breakaway territory into the rest of Azerbaijan would be held on Thursday in the city of Yevlakh.

Russian peacekeepers said Wednesday evening that the ceasefire was holding and there were no violations recorded.

Baku’s operation marked the latest spasm of violence over the rugged territory.

Armenia said at least 32 people were killed and more than 200 wounded by the shelling in Karabakh, as the latest onslaught from Azerbaijan saw artillery, aircraft and drone strikes rock the region.

Moscow said several of its peacekeepers in Karabakh were killed when the car they were travelling in came under fire.

Thousands of protesters waving the Armenian region’s flag blocked a main road in Armenia’s capital Yerevan as riot police protected official buildings.

The ceasefire announcement came after Aliyev warned the military operation would continue until the Karabakh Armenians laid down their weapons, despite international pressure to halt fighting.

The outburst of fighting came as Moscow, the traditional power broker in the region, is bogged down and distracted by its war on Ukraine, which has left it isolated by the West.

Khalil Wakim, with AFP