By Ruslan Rehimov
BAKU, Azerbaijan (AA) – The Azerbaijani army lost at least 2,855 soldiers during its operation to liberate Armenian-occupied territories in the Nagorno-Karabakh region and its surroundings, the country’s Defense Ministry said Monday.
The ministry updated the death toll from the Nagorno-Karabakh war, which started on Sept. 27, 2020 and ended on Nov. 10.
The number of martyrs, previously announced as 2,841, was updated to 2,855 after learning of some funerals and the identities of the deceased.
Announcing that 50 soldiers were still missing, the ministry also shared with the public a list of soldiers who were buried.
Relations between the former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Upper Karabakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory, and seven adjacent regions.
When new clashes erupted Sept. 27, 2020, Armenia launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces and even violated humanitarian cease-fire agreements.
During the six-week-long conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages, while at least 2,802 of its soldiers were known at the time to be martyred. There are differing claims about the number of casualties on the Armenian side, which sources and officials say could be as high as 5,000.
The two countries signed a Russian-brokered agreement on Nov. 10 to end the fighting and work toward a comprehensive resolution.
A joint Turkish-Russian center is being established to monitor the truce. Russian peacekeeping troops have also been deployed in the region.
The cease-fire is seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia, whose armed forces have withdrawn in line with the agreement.
Violations, however, have been reported in recent weeks, with Armenian soldiers reportedly hiding in the mountainous enclave.
*Writing by Merve Berker