Azerbaijani soldiers on Tuesday hoisted their country s flag in the final district given up by Armenia under a peace deal that ended weeks of fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
A column of Azerbaijani military trucks entered the Lachin district overnight, taking over the last of three regions around Karabakh handed over by Armenia under the Russian-brokered agreement.
Soldiers raising the Azerbaijani flag over an administrative building in the town of Lachin overnight and another alongside the road in the morning.
Armenia agreed to hand over the three districts — Aghdam, Lachin and Kalbajar — as part of the November deal that stopped an Azerbaijani offensive that had reclaimed swathes of territory lost to Armenian separatists in a 1990s war.
Under the agreement, some 2,000 Russian peacekeepers deployed between the two sides and along the Lachin corridor, a 60-kilometre (35-mile) route through the district that connects Karabakh s main city Stepanakert to Armenia.
Russian military vehicles accompanied Azerbaijani trucks driving along the corridor overnight and were deployed at the main crossroads in Lachin.
Most of the town s residents fled in advance of the takeover, but 48-year-old Levon Gevorgyan, the owner of a local grocery store, said he had decided to stay.
“I am afraid only of God. I have been here for 22 years, I started from nothing, I built everything,” he said. “I hope I will be able to continue, I still have a loan to pay. If I have to leave, I will burn everything.”