'192 troops were killed in last week's offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh': Azerbaijan

In December, Azerbaijan imposed a blockade of the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia, alleging that the govt was using the road for mineral extraction and illicit weapon shipments.
Ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh ride a truck on their way to Kornidzor in Syunik region, Armenia, Sept. 26, 2023. (Photo | AP)
Ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh ride a truck on their way to Kornidzor in Syunik region, Armenia, Sept. 26, 2023. (Photo | AP)

A total of 192 Azerbaijani troops were killed and 511 were wounded during Azerbaijan’s offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh last week, the country’s Health Ministry announced on Wednesday. It also said that one Azeri civilian died in the hostilities.

Nagorno-Karabakh officials said earlier that at least 200 people on their side, including 10 civilians, were killed and over 400 were wounded in the fighting.

The military operation allowed Azerbaijan to reclaim full control over the breakaway region that was run by separatists for about 30 years. Tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians have already left the region and more are likely to do so after separatist troops agreed to lay down arms and Azerbaijan lifted a 10-month blockade of the road linking the territory to Armenia.

Azerbaijan and separatist officials have held two rounds of talks on the “reintegration” of Nagorno-Karabakh and its ethnic Armenian population into the mainly Muslim country, but how exactly it would happen remains unclear.

Nagorno-Karabakh is a region of Azerbaijan that came under the control of ethnic Armenian forces, backed by the Armenian military, in separatist fighting that ended in 1994. During a six-week war in 2020, Azerbaijan took back parts of Nagorno-Karabakh along with surrounding territory that Armenian forces had claimed during the earlier conflict.

In December, Azerbaijan imposed a blockade of the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia, alleging that the Armenian government was using the road for mineral extraction and illicit weapons shipments to the region’s separatist forces.

Armenia charged that the closure denied basic food and fuel supplies to Nagorno-Karabakh’s approximately 120,000 people. Azerbaijan rejected the accusation, arguing the region could receive supplies through the Azerbaijani city of Aghdam — a solution long resisted by Nagorno-Karabakh authorities, who called it a strategy for Azerbaijan to gain control of the region.

Some 28,000 people, or about 23% of Nagorno-Karabakh's ethnic Armenian population, had left for neighbouring Armenia as of Tuesday evening. Hours-long traffic jams were reported on the road linking Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia.

An explosion at a gas station near the region's capital Stepanakert, where people were queuing to fuel up their cars before leaving for Armenia, on Monday night killed at least 68 people, according to Nagorno-Karabakh's human rights ombudsman Gegham Stepanyan. Another 290 were wounded, and a total of 105 were considered missing as of Tuesday evening, he said.

Those wounded in the blast were taken by ambulance and helicopter to hospitals in Armenia.

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