A first convoy of international aid entered Nagorno-Karabakh on Saturday, where the Azerbaijani army has exposed, on the heights of the "capital" Stepanakert, hundreds of weapons seized from separatists since its lightning offensive earlier this week in this secessionist region populated mainly by Armenians. For its part, Yerevan called for a monitoring "mission" at the United Nations during the day.
"The ICRC went through the Lachin corridor to bring 70 tonnes of humanitarian aid to the population," said an International Red Cross official at the Armenian checkpoint in Kornidzor, Armenia, as trucks passed.
Since the end of 2022, Armenia has accused Baku of blocking this only road that connects it directly to Nagorno-Karabakh and thus causing major shortages there. Azerbaijan, for its part, announced Saturday to proceed with Russia to a "demilitarization" of Armenian secessionist forces, during a press trip.
In the vicinity of Shusha, a town in Nagorno-Karabakh controlled by Baku, not far from Stepanakert – which is surrounded according to local officials – hundreds of small arms seized from the separatists but also tanks marked with a white cross were shown to journalists. In the courtyard in which the military arsenal is displayed, is written in large black letters: "Karabakh is Azerbaijani".
"In close cooperation with Russian peacekeepers, we are demilitarizing" separatist troops and providing "support to civilians," Azerbaijani army spokesman Anar Eyvazov told reporters.
Azerbaijan said residents were setting fire to their homes. "Armenian residents are burning houses en masse in Aghdara," Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry said Saturday night on X-night, posting aerial footage that appeared to show houses being burned.
Yerevan wants UN 'mission'
Defeated after Tuesday's assault in Baku, the separatists capitulated and concluded a ceasefire the next day and the population is anxious for its future in this region where thousands of people remain facing a humanitarian emergency.
The Azerbaijani army spokesman said camps were being set up to accommodate civilians. The Azerbaijani military operation left at least 200 dead and 400 wounded, according to Armenian separatists.
The mountainous enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, attached in 1921 by the Soviet power to Azerbaijani territory, has already been the scene of two wars between the former republics of the USSR that are Azerbaijan and Armenia: one from 1988 to 1994 (30,000 dead) and the other in autumn 2020 (6,500 dead).
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Azerbaijan vowed Saturday at the UN rostrum to treat Armenians, the majority in Nagorno-Karabakh, "as equal citizens," Foreign Minister Dzheyhoun Bayramov told the UN General Assembly.
Armenia, for its part, called for the "immediate" dispatch of a UN "mission" to "monitor and assess human rights and the humanitarian and security situation on the ground".