TVER, Russia – The President of Azerbaijan on Sunday announced that his forces had captured a strategically important hilltop town in Nagorno-Karabakh which, if confirmed, would complicate the defense. defend the separatist region of Armenia.
The town, known as Shusha for the Azerbaijani and Shushi for the Armenians, lies at a commanding height overlooking some mountain valleys and the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, Stepanakert, and it is considered the post for control. military in the area.
The occupation of the town also revealed that Azerbaijan had swept across a major road connecting Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, recognized internationally as part of Azerbaijan but inhabited by Armenians.
“We have won this victory on the battlefield, not on the negotiating table,” said Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev on Sunday. “I have said many times that, in spite of all claims, there are military solutions to this conflict.”
Officials in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh denied that the town was captured and said fierce fighting continued.
Perched high in the mountains and bordered by towering cliffs, the town was a natural fortress and also a military reward in the war in Nagorno-Karabakh that began in the late 1980s. In the years that followed, Armenia gained a wide range of territories, forcing nearly a million Azerbaijani people to flee their homeland. The conflict ended in 1994 with a ceasefire but no resolution.
“Despite the fact that there is a lot of havoc in the city, the city is solidly resistant to enemy attacks,” the separatist government in Nagorno-Karabakh said in a statement on Sunday. .
However, the fact that the fighting had reached the main road connecting Armenia with the Armenian towns and cities of Nagorno-Karabakh signaled the Armenian side. The important route is called the Lachin Corridor.
The paved road two decades ago with the contribution of the Armenian community in Southern California, crucial to the defense of Nagorno-Karabakh, allowed military supplies coming from Armenia to reverse. over the pass. A side road was also attacked.
Armenian officials on Sunday also released photos of the fresh devastation in Stepanakert, showing shattered windows, collapsing roofs and tail fins of a missile that appeared to have caused damage. Since the fighting began on September 27, both sides have shelling on civilian areas and at least 1,000 people, including civilians, have been killed.
Fighting continued despite repeated efforts by Russia, France and the United States to help achieve a permanent ceasefire. Much of the concern stems from the potential for conflict to attract regional powers like Russia, Turkey and Iran. Turkey has openly supported Azerbaijan, while Russia has a joint defense treaty with Armenia, although Moscow says it will only come into effect if violence spreads to Armenian territory. Iran said stray Azerbaijan materials had fallen beside the border with Nagorno-Karabakh.
On Sunday, the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, congratulated Azerbaijan for having captured the hilltop town.