Nagorno-Karabakh: Azerbaijan claims to have taken the strategic city of Shusha

After six weeks of fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan said on Sunday that its troops had taken Shusha. Armenia immediately denied it but admitted that fighting was raging for control of this strategic city.

This take would be a major victory for Azerbaijan. Erected on top of a mountain, the city is located just fifteen kilometers from the regional capital Stepanakert and on the main road connecting the self-proclaimed republic with Armenia, its main support. Azerbaijanis consider it one of their major cultural centers. It was mostly inhabited by Azerbaijanis until the end of the 1980s, although the two communities coexisted.

In recent days, the two camps had reported heavy fighting around Shusha, a sign of Azerbaijan’s territorial gains in Nagorno-Karabakh – an Azerbaijani-majority Armenian region which seceded in the 1990s. In a televised address. , President Ilham Aliev announced on Saturday “with great pride and joy” that Choucha had been “released”. November 8 “will go down in the history of the Azerbaijani people” as the day “when we returned to Shusha”, he added.

“Liberation near”

On the Armenian side, an official of the Ministry of Defense immediately affirmed that “the combat continues” in Shusha, where Azerbaijan has used “new and numerous forces”. “Despite heavy damage, the fortress city resists the blows of the adversary,” added the government.

“Tomorrow, with the help of God, the battle of Shushi (Editor’s note: Armenian name of Choucha) will come to an end, ”Defense chief Artsrun Hovhannisyan promised. “We are better technically, we are now able to neutralize the technological advantage of the enemy”, he assured, adding: “We fight at home […], and winter is coming! “

In Baku, many Azerbaijanis took to the streets when news of the city’s capture was announced, waving their country’s flags and sounding horns. “I haven’t left the house this week, but today I went out to say that Choucha has been released. We are happy, congratulations to all my people, ”said 32-year-old resident Charguia Dadachova.

Conversely, the people of Yerevan did not want to believe the President of Azerbaijan. “To find out who controls Shushi, we will listen to the commanders of our army, not Aliev. But in any case, I can assure you that the war will not end with the capture ”of the city, assured Arman, 50 years.

At least 1,250 dead

The announcement was welcomed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country is Baku’s ally. “The liberation of Shusha is also a sign that the liberation of the other occupied territories is near,” he said in a televised speech, adding that “the joy of Azerbaijan is our joy”.

Erdogan had an “in-depth discussion” on Nagorny Karabakh on the phone on Saturday evening with Vladimir Putin, according to the Kremlin. The Russian president also raised the subject the same day with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.

Since the end of September, the fighting has been opposing Azerbaijani soldiers and separatists supported by Armenia for the control of Nagorno Karabakh, a region recognized by the international community as belonging to Azerbaijan but which has escaped its control since 1994 and a war that has waged 30 000 dead.

This resumption of hostilities has left more than 1,250 dead but the number of victims is probably much higher, Azerbaijan not communicating its military losses.

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