Azerbaijani territories under Armenian control must be ‘liberated’: Iran’s Khamenei

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All Azerbaijani territories under Armenian control must be “liberated and returned to Azerbaijan,” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday.

“This military conflict must end as soon as possible ... of course, all the Azerbaijani territories occupied by Armenia must be liberated and returned to Azerbaijan,” Khamenei said in a televised speech.

Read more: Turkey’s Erdogan: Armenia must withdraw from Azeri lands it is ‘invading’

Khamenei alleged that “terrorists” have entered the conflict zone, adding: “They should not come close to the Iranian border, and if they do, they will certainly be dealt with decisively.”

Iran shares borders with both Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Hundreds of people have been killed since fighting broke out on September 27 between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but populated by ethnic Armenians, which have controlled the province since the 1990s.

Read more: Iran's Khamenei says US election will not affect Tehran's policy

On Monday, Armenia’s prime minister called for an international investigation into the presence of “foreign mercenaries” in Nagorno-Karabakh after ethnic Armenian forces said they had captured two mercenaries from Syria.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Armenian President Armen Sarkissian have said Turkey is funding Syrian mercenaries to battle alongside Azerbaijan against Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said last month it deployed troops along the border with Azerbaijan and Armenia, following reports of stary shells from the fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh falling on villages near Iran’s northwestern border.

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