Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said on Sunday that his country’s forces had seized Shushi, a town of strategic importance in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Armenia and neighbouring Azerbaijan have been engaged in intense fighting for more than a month as Azerbaijan’s military advances into Armenian-held parts of Nagorno-Karabakh.
“I can tell you with a feeling of great pride that the town of Shushi has been liberated from Armenian occupation,” Aliyev said in a speech.
Shushi is 10 km from Stepanakert the region’s capital, and a key gain for the Azerbaijani forces.
“Shushi belongs to us! Karabakh belongs to us,” Aliyev told the media in the capital, Baku, saying that he would fight until the end.
Armenia did not initially confirm the loss. The authorities had only reported intense fighting, which continued on Sunday.
Aliyev claimed larger territorial gains on Saturday.
Nagorno-Karabakh has been controlled by Armenian troops for more than a quarter-century but is considered by the United Nations as to be part of predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan.
Tens of thousands of civilians have been displaced by the fighting, which began in late September.
With more than 1,000 people reported killed, the recent fighting has been the deadliest since Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a war in the late 1980s and early 1990s as they transitioned into independent countries amid the Soviet dissolution.