With the liberation of their villages and towns, Azerbaijanis who have spent the last decades as refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) are experiencing both joyful and mournful emotions, as heavy artillery strikes continue between Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan under international law, but controlled by ethnic Armenians.
“Each time when I am hear the sounds of explosions, I am lost in emotions. I don't know whether I should be happy for the liberated territories, or grieve for those dying on the front,” Ali Guliyev, a man displaced from Fuzuli's liberated Garakhanbayli village told Meydan TV.
“It is like a dream. It took 30 years to hear it,” Guliyev said with tears in his eyes.
“We had really lost our hope. There were people who passed away without hearing this news.”
The clashes are the worst one since the 1990s, when the war started over Nagorno-Karabakh left 30,000 killed. The reported death toll passed 230 over the past week, Reuters reported.
President Ilham Aliyev stated over the weekend that a strategic point of Madagiz, that plays an important role in terms of military progress in the northern direction, had been
“Today the army raised the flag of Azerbaijan in Madagiz. Madagiz is ours,” Aliyev announced on Saturday adding that he also changed the name from Madagiz to Sugovushan.
Later, he announced the capture of more villages and the city of
, which was refuted by Armenia.
Many took to the streets in the capital city of Baku to join celebrations with, cars honking and people chanting “Karabakh.”
Despite calls from France, Russia, the United States and the European Union to halt the fighting, a ceasefire seems far in sight, particularly after President Ilham Aliyev
on Sunday that the Azerbaijani military advance will not be ceased until Armenia withdraws from Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.
“We wanted to liberate the territories with peace but it was impossible,” another refugee Alizamin Mehdiyev told Meydan TV, saying he has not seen his village for 23 years and wants to go back to visit his childhood home.
On Monday, the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh, said Azerbaijani forces launched rocket strikes on its administrative centre, (Khankhendi) Stepanakert, while Azerbaijan said Armenia had attacked densely populated areas and towns in Azerbaijan that are far away from Karabakh.
According to the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry on Monday, Armenian armed forces have been firing at civilian settlements in the cities of Ganja, Mingachevir, Barda, and Beylagan, and three more civilians were injured in Ganja, raising the total number to 35.
Ganja, Azerbaijan's second largest city, came under attack on Sunday.
“I ordered to bombard Ganja military facilities,” Nagorno-Karabakh head Arayik Harutyunyan said on Twitter.
“Armenian armed forces shelled the central market of Ganja. How the market could have any military importance? This indiscriminate missile attack was done with sole purpose of causing mass casualties among civilians,” Presidential aide Hikmat Hajiyev said on Twitter later.
One civilian was killed in the shelling.
The Prosecutor General's Office of Azerbaijan said on Monday that 25 civilians have been killed and 127 injured since 27 September. The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense has yet to announce any military casualties officially, which makes it difficult to gauge how many lives have been lost in the fighting.
Fifty-six civilian objects and 313 houses were damaged, the office added. Two Armenian civilians have also been reported killed.
“I am afraid of watching the television. I don't want to hear about the attacks that are killing our people,” Nazila Novruzova, an Azerbaijani refugee from Fuzuli's Horadiz village, told Meydan TV, adding that she does not want to live as a refugee anymore.
“I just want to go back home.”