Today, Azerbaijan celebrates the first anniversary of the liberation of the Karabakh region and neighboring provinces from the Armenian occupation.
A year ago today, Azerbaijan launched a military counterattack, which the country’s President Ilham Aliyev described as an “iron fist”, in response to an attack by the Armenian armed forces on Azerbaijani towns and villages close to the ceasefire line.
Within days, the operation (military counter-offensive) turned into a “national war” during which the Azerbaijani army was able to liberate its lands occupied by Armenia since 1992, and restore villages and cities that had been under occupation for 30 years.
Baku’s move to regain its lands came after years of the failure of the negotiation process, and the repeated attacks by Armenian forces against Azerbaijani lands, in light of the escalation of provocative statements by Yerevan.
For 28 years, the activities of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, headed by Russia, the United States and France, did not produce results leading to the withdrawal of Armenian forces from Azerbaijani territories.
Despite President Aliyev’s affirmation through all platforms of the need to find a peaceful solution to the issue, on more than one occasion he referred to his country’s right to recover its war-occupied lands if the negotiations did not achieve tangible results.
Indeed, the Azerbaijani armed forces, based on their right based on international law, managed to liberate the occupied territories after the failure of all political negotiations to do so, and to ensure the withdrawal of Armenia from them after nearly 30 years of occupation.
During the period of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Armenia demanded that Moscow annex Azerbaijani lands known as the “Karabakh” region, under the pretext of the presence of an Armenian minority living in that region.
In the early 1990s, Armenia launched a military offensive against Azerbaijan, during which it occupied the Karabakh region and 7 other neighboring provinces, forcing nearly one million Azerbaijanis to flee their lands.
In the face of these developments, the UN Security Council issued a set of resolutions, in which it called on Armenia to “immediately and unconditionally” leave the occupied territories, in light of Yerevan’s continuing policy of intransigence and refusal to implement the Council’s resolutions.
Provocative statements and igniting the war
In conjunction with the continuation of Nikol Pashinyan, the Armenian Prime Minister who came to power in 2018, the position of the previous administration regarding the continued occupation of Azerbaijani lands, negotiations within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group were suspended, due to the intransigence of the Armenian side and its refusal to implement the relevant international resolutions.
Months before the war, Pashinyan declared “Karabakh” to be “Armenian lands,” while then-Armenian Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan brandished “a new war that will make Armenia get new lands.”
These statements caused great resentment in Azerbaijan, both at the official and popular levels, which accelerated the military operation carried out by its armed forces to liberate the occupied lands.
In addition to provocative statements, Armenia continued to launch armed attacks against Azerbaijan along the ceasefire line in the occupied territories.
On July 12, 2020, the Armenian army launched an attack to seize strategic sites in the Azerbaijani province of Tovuz (northwest), at the border between the two countries.
The Azerbaijani army repelled the attacking forces, while Major General Polad Hashimov, one of the military commanders, was martyred during battles that lasted for several days at the borderline between the two countries.
The Azerbaijani people received the news of the martyrdom of Major General Hashimov with great sadness and filled the squares and squares in the country’s cities to protest against the Armenian attacks, calling on their government to start the liberation of the occupied lands and ensure the return of more than one million displaced people to their cities and villages.
In light of these developments, the Azerbaijani army intensified its military exercises, especially joint exercises with the Turkish Armed Forces, in August and September 2020.
Aliyev announces the harbinger of victory
On September 27, 2020, around (06:00) in the morning, the Armenian army launched a large-scale provocation along the ceasefire line, targeting the positions of the Azerbaijani army and a number of cities and villages close to the ceasefire line.
The Armenian bombardment of Azerbaijani cities and villages, using artillery and mortars, led to the death of a number of Azerbaijani civilians and soldiers, while severe damage was caused to infrastructure in some areas.
In response to these attacks, President Aliyev ordered the Azerbaijani army to launch a counterattack along the front, where on the first day of the operation the army managed to liberate 6 villages and some strategic heights.
This news brought great joy to the Azerbaijani people, who lived through the 44 days of the liberation war, one after another, during the days of the war of liberation of the occupied territories.
In the following days, President Aliyev announced a succession of signs of victory, confirming the liberation of a number of villages, cities, and strategic hills, after which these battles ended on November 10, 2020, the day Armenia declared its defeat.
During the days of the war, the Azerbaijani army managed to liberate 5 cities, 4 towns, and 286 villages from Israel, forcing the Armenian army to withdraw from the provinces of Kalbajar, Lajin, and Agdam, according to the signed announcement.
Commemoration of the Martyrs of Karabakh on September 27th
In the second “Karabakh” war (last 44 days), the Azerbaijani army lost 2,907 martyrs, while President Aliyev declared September 27, the date of the start of military operations “National Martyrs’ Day”, in remembrance of their exploits and sacrifices for the liberation of the land and the defense of the homeland.