Azerbaijan detains former commander of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenian armed forces

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Azerbaijan’s military has detained a former commander of Nagorno-Karabakh’s separatist Armenian armed forces at a border checkpoint with Armenia, Russia’s state-run TASS news agency reported on Friday, citing a source close to the commander.

According to TASS, the commander, Levon Mnatsakanyan, led the army of the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh from 2015 to 2018.

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His detention was part of an operation to arrest and try people on a list of people Baku regards as having committed various crimes. Azerbaijani officials have said there are “a couple of hundred” names on the list.

Azerbaijan’s state security service said on Friday it had arrested another former military commander - Davit Manukyan, who used to be the first deputy commander of the Karabakh Armenian forces. It said he was wanted for “terrorist crimes.”

On Wednesday, Ruben Vardanyan, former head of the breakaway ethnic Armenian government in Karabakh, was arrested as he tried to cross into Armenia.

He was later charged with financing terrorism and illegally crossing the Azerbaijani border last year.

Nearly 93,000 ethnic Armenians have fled the breakaway enclave since Azerbaijan retook the mountainous region in a lightning military operation last week. The UN refugee agency has said that the total number of arrivals could rise to 120,000.

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