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Azerbaijan Defuses Over 1,300 Armenian-Made Landmines in Lachin

By Nargiz Mammadli August 23, 2022

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The landmines of PMN-E type were produced in Armenia in 2021 / Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan

The mine clearance teams of the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry unearthed and defused a total of 1,318 pieces of landmines in the Lachin region over the last week.

The landmines, produced in Armenia in 2021, were planted by illegal Armenian armed detachments in specified positions in Lachin’s territory following the 2020 war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, according to the ministry.

On August 15, 991 pieces of the same landmines were removed and disposed of in a newly discovered minefield in Lachin. Then, it was confirmed that the area was mined, following the signing of a tripartite statement by Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia, which brought the war to an end on November 10, 2020. Moreover, the mined area was located within the perimeter of the zone monitored temporarily by Russian peacekeepers in Azerbaijan.

Mine threats are common in the once occupied Azerbaijani territories as the Karabakh (Garabagh) and East Zangazur regions of Azerbaijan had been heavily mined by Armenia since the early 1990s. Armenia launched a full-blown military assault against Azerbaijan, which lasted until a ceasefire was reached in 1994. The bloody war ended with Armenia occupying 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally-recognized territories.

On September 27, 2020, the conflict took a violent turn after Armenia’s forces deployed in occupied Azerbaijani lands shelled military positions and civilian settlements of Azerbaijan. During the counter-attack operations, Azerbaijani forces liberated over 300 settlements, including the cities of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli and Shusha. The war ended with the signing of a tripartite agreement on November 10, 2020, by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia, under which Armenia also returned the occupied Aghdam, Kalbajar and Lachin districts to Azerbaijan.

Since the end of the war, the Azerbaijani government has been conducting intensive demining operations in the liberated territories - an indication that mine threats still remain there. Officials in Baku are convinced that the maps hidden by Armenia could help neutralize at least one million landmines planted in the once occupied Azerbaijani lands. It is estimated that the demining process could take 10 to 13 years to complete. To date, a total of 25,760 hectares of the area in the liberated territories have been cleared of mines by Azerbaijan since November 2020.

The intensive demining operations in Lachin were carried out to facilitate the return of internally displaced Azerbaijanis to the district. Under the tripartite agreement, the city of Lachin and two surrounding villages remained in the temporary monitoring zone of the Russian peacekeepers. The territories are due to return to Azerbaijan’s control after a new highway came into operation, connecting Armenia with ethnic Armenians settled in Azerbaijan. The route previously ran through the Lachin corridor, which traverses Lachin city.

On August 11, the new high-quality road bypassing the city and connecting the Armenian-populated part of Azerbaijan's Karabakh region with Armenia were opened.

By August 25, the ethnic Armenians illegally settled in the city of Lachin, as well as the Zabukh and Sus villages are due to leave the territories before Azerbaijani forces retake control. According to the Armenian media, all Armenian families living in Sus left the village. The one remaining person in the village is expected to leave by August 25. Mkhitar Nersesyan, one of the illegal settlers in Sus, said that the Armenians also completely left the Zabukh village.