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Turkey will deploy troops to Nagorno-Karabakh to supervise ceasefire alongside Russia

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Turkey will deploy soldiers to Nagorno-Karabakh to supervise the recent ceasefire in the disputed territory, the Turkish defense ministry announced on Sunday.

The Turkish army will operate for one year in a joint center to be established by Russia that will oversee the implementation of the ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan, who both claim the territory, according to the statement.

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The ministry did not clarify when or how many soldiers would be sent.

Last week, Turkey’s parliament granted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan permission to send troops to Azerbaijan, a close ally of Ankara, to monitor the truce.

Service members of the Russian peacekeeping troops stand next to a tank near the border with Armenia in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, November 10, 2020. (Reuters)
Service members of the Russian peacekeeping troops stand next to a tank near the border with Armenia in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, November 10, 2020. (Reuters)

Russian peacekeeping troops have already deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh and are set to remain there for at least five years.

Moscow brokered the recent truce between Armenia and Azerbaijan on November 10, putting an end to months of heavy fighting that killed hundreds over the disputed region.

Read more: Armenian prime minister urges stronger military links with Russia

France, currently at odds with NATO ally Turkey, has advocated for international supervision of the ceasefire that would go beyond Moscow and Ankara.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron has accused Turkey of sending Syrian extremist fighters to fight against Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh, and condemned Turkey’s “reckless and dangerous statements” backing Azerbaijan.

An ethnic Armenian soldier fires an artillery piece during fighting with Azerbaijan's forces in Nagorno-Karabakh. (Reuters)
An ethnic Armenian soldier fires an artillery piece during fighting with Azerbaijan's forces in Nagorno-Karabakh. (Reuters)

Conflict over contested land

The decades-long conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over control of the ethnic Armenian province flared up in late September.

Turkey has backed Azerbaijan’s claims to the region, with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accusing Armenia of illegally occupying the territory, which is considered Azerbaijani under international law.

Armenian leadership has argued the area is part of “historic Armenia,” and that Nagorno-Karabakh’s link to Azerbaijan is only due to Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin.

Armenians protest against the country's agreement to end fighting with Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region inside the government headquarters in Yerevan on November 10, 2020. (AFP)
Armenians protest against the country's agreement to end fighting with Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region inside the government headquarters in Yerevan on November 10, 2020. (AFP)

Stalin placed the province under the control of the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan in 1921.

In July 1988, the local government declared the area’s transfer to Armenian jurisdiction, which the Azerbaijani government annulled and declared illegal.

War in the province broke out following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and though a ceasefire was reached in 1994, fighting renewed in April 2016 and again in 2020.

Azerbaijan gained significant territory in the latest ceasefire, which was celebrated in Baku. Armenia’s prime minister called the truce “extremely painful” for him and the Armenian people.

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