MOSCOW – Azerbaijani forces have taken control of the strategically important city Shushi in Nagorno-Karabakh where fighting with Armenia has been going on for more than a month, the country’s president said on Sunday.
In a televised address before the country, President Ilham Aliyev said “Shusha is our – Karabakh is our”, using the Azerbaijan version of the city name.
However, Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman Artsrun Ovannisian said on Facebook following Aliyev’s statement that “the fighting in Shushi is still continuing. Please wait and trust our army ”.
The Shushi has important military value because it lies about 10 km (6 miles) south of the capital of Stepanakert and lies along the main road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia.
Nagorno-Karabakh is located in Azerbaijan, but has been under the control of the local nationalist Armenian forces backed by Armenia since 1994. The most recent fighting began on September 27 and has caused hundreds – if not thousands of people died.
Aliyev vowed to continue fighting until Armenia withdrew from the territory.
The main ally of Azerbaijan, Turkey, welcomed the declared victory.
“The joy of our Azerbaijan brothers who gradually liberate their occupied cities and Karabakh is also our joy”, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a rally in the city of Kocaeli, northwest of this country.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar also met Aliyev in Baku on Sunday, the Turkish Defense Ministry said in a tweet.