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Azerbaijan, Armenia Mark Anniversary Of End Of Nagorno-Karabakh War

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Azerbaijani soldiers carrying a large-scale national flag parade through Baku to mark the anniversary of the end of the 2020 war over the Nagorno-Karabakh region with Armenia on November 8.

Armenians and Azerbaijanis have commemorated the first anniversary of the ending of their bloody six-week war in Nagorno-Karabakh in starkly different ways, highlighting the continued tensions over the breakaway region.

The peace deal that ended last year's war was hailed as a triumph in Azerbaijan, but the loss sparked months of massive protests in Armenia demanding Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian's resignation.

In Azerbaijan, tens of thousands of people rallied in the capital, Baku, to celebrate the country’s victory in the confrontation with Armenian forces that caused the deaths of some 6,000 people on both sides. It is unclear how many more prisoners remain in captivity on either side

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev declared November 8 as Victory Day to celebrate the capture of the strategic city of Susa (known as Shushi in Armenian) by Azerbaijani forces.

Two days after the city fell, Armenia was forced to accept a Russian-brokered truce that handed a significant part of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding regions it had occupied for nearly three decades back to Azerbaijan.

"All of Azerbaijan celebrates this glorious holiday," Aliyev told troops in Susa. "Azerbaijan has restored its territorial integrity and restored historical justice."

"We have shown the whole world that we are a great nation," Aliyev added.

As part of the celebrations in Baku, military marches were held as thousands of flag-waving people honored troops and remembered the roughly 3,000 Azerbaijani servicemen and 100 civilians killed in the war.

Meanwhile, in Armenia's capital, Yerevan, thousands of opposition supporters rallied in Freedom Square on November 8 calling again for Pashinian's resignation and demanding that the government make no additional concessions to Azerbaijan as the two countries engage in Russian-mediated diplomacy to fulfill the terms of the peace agreement.

Armenians rally against the government on Freedom Square in Yerevan on November 8.
Armenians rally against the government on Freedom Square in Yerevan on November 8.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but had been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces since the end of a separatist war in 1994.

Tensions since the signing of the cease-fire have remained high, with reports of scattered exchanges of gunfire.

On November 8, one ethnic Armenian resident of Nagorno-Karabakh was killed and three others wounded by incoming fire from the Azerbaijani side, ethnic Armenian authorities said.

According to them, the four men came under fire while repairing water pipes just outside the Azerbaijani-controlled town of Susa.

With reporting by AP, RFE/RL's Azerbaijan Service, and RFE/RL's Armenian Service
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