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Azerbaijan cleans over 16,000 mines in liberated territories

More than 11,900 hectares cleared of mines, unexploded ordnance by engineer-sapper units, says Defense Ministry

Jeyhun Aliyev   | 22.09.2021
Azerbaijan cleans over 16,000 mines in liberated territories

ANKARA 

Over 16,000 mines and unexploded ordnance have been destroyed to date in areas of 11,900 hectares recently liberated from the occupation of Armenian forces, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry announced on Wednesday.

"Azerbaijan Army’s engineer-sapper units together with Turkish military sappers continue to carry out the work on clearance of mines and unexploded ordnance in the liberated territories," the ministry said in a written statement, referring to Karabakh lands liberated last year from nearly three-decade occupation.

The ministry underlined that demining of roads are underway to ensure the safe movement of military vehicle convoys.

"Work is being carried out to lay new supply roads in the directions of the positions of the Azerbaijan Army Units deployed in the mountainous terrain," it added.

The engineer-sapper units of the Azerbaijani army stationed in the liberated territories have been provided with the Mechanical Mine Clearing Equipment (MEMATT), a remote-controlled mine-clearing vehicle produced by ASFAT, an affiliate of Turkey's National Defense Ministry.

"These equipment are being involved in clearing the settlements and arable lands from mines and unexploded ordnance," the statement read.

The MEMATT, a top-notch unmanned mine-clearing equipment, achieved over a 95% success rate in mine tests conducted in Turkey, according to an ASFAT expert, Yasin Arslan.

It has high resistance to explosions, and it is faster, reliable and minimizes loss of life.

Following the liberation of lands, Azerbaijani officials announced the handover of several Armenian detainees in exchange for the mine maps in the region.

Liberation of Karabakh

Relations between the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

When new clashes erupted on Sept. 27, 2020, the Armenian army launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces and violated several humanitarian cease-fire agreements.

During the 44-day conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages from the nearly three-decade occupation.

On Nov. 10, 2020, the two countries signed a Russian-brokered agreement to end the fighting and work toward a comprehensive resolution.

On Jan. 11, the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a pact to develop economic ties and infrastructure to benefit the entire region. It included the establishment of a trilateral working group on Karabakh.

The cease-fire is seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia, whose armed forces withdrew in line with the agreement.

Prior to this victory, about 20% of Azerbaijan's territory had been under illegal occupation for nearly 30 years.

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