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Azerbaijani army enters territory ceded by Armenian forces

The Aghdam region was handed over to Azerbaijan as part of a Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement.

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A rose is seen in a burnt barn in Karmiravan village, as ethnic Armenians leave the area prior to the Azerbaijani forces being handed control in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh (AP)

A rose is seen in a burnt barn in Karmiravan village, as ethnic Armenians leave the area prior to the Azerbaijani forces being handed control in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh (AP)

A rose is seen in a burnt barn in Karmiravan village, as ethnic Armenians leave the area prior to the Azerbaijani forces being handed control in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh (AP)

Azerbaijani army units have entered the Aghdam region, a territory ceded by Armenian forces in a ceasefire agreement that ended six weeks of heavy fighting over the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The truce, brokered by Russia last week, stipulated that Armenia should hand over control of some areas its holds outside Nagorno-Karabakh’s borders to Azerbaijan.

The first one, Aghdam, is to be turned over on Friday.

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A view of a vast expanse of jagged concrete and houses reduced to shells in Aghdam (AP)

A view of a vast expanse of jagged concrete and houses reduced to shells in Aghdam (AP)

AP/PA Images

A view of a vast expanse of jagged concrete and houses reduced to shells in Aghdam (AP)

Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994.

That war left not only Nagorno-Karabakh itself but substantial surrounding territory in Armenian hands.

Heavy fighting that flared up on September 27 marked the biggest escalation of the decades-old conflict between the two former Soviet nations in over a quarter of a century, killing hundreds and possibly thousands of people.

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The Aghdam Mosque (AP)

The Aghdam Mosque (AP)

AP/PA Images

The Aghdam Mosque (AP)

The truce last week halted the violence after several failed attempts to establish a lasting ceasefire.

It was celebrated as a victory in Azerbaijan, but sparked mass protests in Armenia, with thousands regularly taking to the streets to demand the ouster of the country’s prime minister.

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