President Aliyev: Azerbaijan Regains Full Control Over Lachin District

Gunay Hajiyeva Feature 26 August 2022
President Aliyev: Azerbaijan Regains Full Control Over Lachin District

President Ilham Aliyev has announced the return of Azerbaijanis to the Lachin district, situated between Armenia and Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region.

"Today, on August 26, we - the Azerbaijanis have returned to the city of Lachin. Azerbaijan's Army is now stationed in the city of Lachin. The villages of Zabukh and Sus were taken under [Azerbaijan's] control. I congratulate all the residents of Lachin and the people of Azerbaijan on this occasion. Long live Lachin! Long live Azerbaijan!" he made the remarks on his official Twitter account.

The Armenian residents of the Azerbaijani town of Lachin and the villages of Zabukh and Sus were given until 25 August to leave their homes before the area, which is located along the Lachin corridor - the overland link between Armenia and Azerbaijan's Karabakh region - goes back under Baku's control.  

Aliyev said on 12 August that “the Armenians had settled in Lachin and Zabukh illegally after Lachin District came under Armenian control during hostilities in May 1992. Baku will soon relocate back to their homes the Azerbaijanis who fled Lachin and the villages of Zabukh and Sus”.

Azerbaijan has built a new road bypassing Lachin and Zabukh, which will replace the Lachin corridor, and the new road will be put into operation in the first week of September. Azerbaijan completed the new road on 15 August, having also built 4.8 km of it that is on the Armenia side. Russian peacekeepers will also be redeployed to the new road, part of which is still to be completed.

The Lachin district was the last of the three areas to be returned by Armenia to Azerbaijan as part of its obligations under the tripartite ceasefire statement signed between Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Russia on November 10. To ensure the security of civilian vehicle traffic and movement of residents, a contingent of Russian peacekeepers took under control the 5km-wide Lachin corridor, but

Article 6 of the agreement states that “within the next three years, a plan will be outlined for the construction of a new route via the Lachin Corridor, to provide a connection between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, and the Russian peacemaking forces shall be subsequently relocated to protect the route.”

The Lachin district has been returned to Azerbaijan on December 1 after 28 years of being under illegal Armenian occupation following the terms of a Russian-brokered ceasefire deal that sealed the victory of Azerbaijan over Armenia.

To ensure the security of civilian vehicle traffic and movement of residents, a contingent of Russian peacekeepers took under control the 5km-wide Lachin corridor and the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan in mid-November as part of the ceasefire deal signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. Under the terms of the accord, a contingent of 1,960 Russian peacekeepers will remain in the region for at least five years with the possibility of extension.

Lachin, one of the largest districts in Azerbaijan spanning an area of 1,800 square kilometers, was occupied by Armenia's armed forces on May 18, 1992, connecting the occupied Karabakh region of Azerbaijan to Armenia.

As a result of the Armenian aggression, 264 people were killed, 65 were taken hostage, and 103 became disabled. Additionally, 18 out of the 24,374 children in the district aged from one to 16 became martyrs, 225 wounded, 1,071 children lost one, and 31 children lost both parents. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the Lachin district were accommodated in 59 cities and districts of Azerbaijan. https://en.trend.az/azerbaijan/politics/3342747.html

As a result of the occupation of the Lachin district, 217 cultural centers, 142 health facilities, 133 offices and enterprises, 100 secondary schools, preschool institutions, five musical schools, one boarding school, one vocational school, and one communication center were looted and destroyed by Armenia's forces.

Armenia's forces destroyed more than 200 historical monuments of local and 54 monuments of world importance, including the Albanian Agoglan monastery (6th century), the tomb of Malik Azhdar (14th century), a mosque in the village of Garagishlag, and an ancient cemetery in the village of Zabukh. Lachin History Museum and an old collection of gold, silver and bronze coins were plundered. An exhibit from Lachin History Museum - a bag made of silver - was reportedly sold for $80,000 at Sotheby's in London.

The material damage caused to the area during the occupation exceeds $7.1 billion.

Like in Aghdam and Kalbajar, the Armenian population settled illegally in the occupied Lachin district and left the area ahead of the handover, taking livestock, firewood, furniture and even plastic water pipes. Most residents settled illegally in the district and burned homes before they left.

The conflict in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan spiralled on September 27 after Armenia's forces deployed in the occupied Azerbaijani lands started shelling the military positions and civilian settlements of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani army took immediate counter-offensive measures to push back Armenia's attack. Azerbaijani army liberated around 300 settlements, including five cities in the Karabakh region before the military operations ended in a ceasefire on November 10.