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Thousands of refugees flee as Azerbaijan occupies Armenian enclaves

AZERBAIJANI troops occupied Kalbajar, territory previously controlled by the ethnic Armenian Republic of Artsakh enclave, today.

The area is one of several regions adjoining the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh area which have been handed to Azerbaijan as part of a truce negotiated by Russia.

The handover was delayed from November 15 because worsening weather made the withdrawal of “Armenian soldiers and civilians” along the single mountain track connecting the region with Armenia more difficult, Azerbaijani officials said.

Thousands of ethnic Armenian refugees have fled areas that Azerbaijan is taking over. Twenty-five thousand have swelled the population of Nagorno-Karabakh’s capital Stepanakert, which remains controlled by the self-declared Republic of Artsakh, while Armenia has reported 90,000 refugees crossing into the country.

Turkey has never acknowledged the Armenian genocide in which an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed in the first world war.

It deployed jihadist fighters from Syria to assist Azerbaijan in its recent war to reclaim the territory, sparking fears of ethnic cleansing.

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