After six weeks of heavy fighting, Azerbaijan said on Sunday it had captured Shusha, Nagorno-Karabakh`s biggest city. Azeri defence ministry video posted online showed Azerbaijan`s national flag flying over deserted streets in what it said was Shusha. Armenia has denied the extent of Azerbaijan`s territorial gains.
Azeris celebrated on the streets of Baku after President Ilham Aliyev said on Sunday his country`s forces had taken Shusha, the second-largest city in the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. "This day will become a great day in the history of Azerbaijan," Aliyev said, announcing that Baku`s troops had taken Shusha/Shushi. Shusha, which Armenians call Shushi, is of cultural and strategic importance to both sides and is located 15 km (9 miles) south of the enclave`s largest city Stepanakert.
Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said on Sunday his troops would "go to the end" should negotiations fail to result in an agreement by ethnic Armenian forces. Aliyev also said Armenia had "no basis" to request Russian military assistance in the conflict. Further shelling was reported by Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces in and around Nagorno-Karabakh on Sunday.
Armenia`s prime minister said on Wednesday he saw no possibility of a diplomatic solution at this stage in the conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. His comments, after Azerbaijan`s president said he believed the conflict could be solved militarily, increased doubts over a diplomatic initiative by major powers. In the latest flare-up of the decades-old conflict, hundreds of people have been killed since September 27 in clashes in and around Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Government of Turkey is now working to expedite establishing a military base in Azerbaijan. Analysts believe that the Azeri government has even begun to work towards this. The defense agreement between both the countries provides basis for this, which includes provisions on establishing military bases in each other's countries.
Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other on Sunday of violating a new humanitarian ceasefire in fighting over the mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, hours after it was agreed. The truce agreed on Saturday came into force at midnight (2000 GMT) after a Russian-brokered ceasefire failed to halt the worst fighting in the South Caucasus since the 1990s. The Armenian defence ministry said the Azeri army had fired twice during the night and used artillery.
Azerbaijan accused Armenia on Wednesday of trying to attack its gas and oil pipelines and warned of a "severe" response. Armenia denied the claim and said Azeri forces were trying to seize control of the tiny territory, which is governed by ethnic Armenians. Russia tried to silence the angry rhetoric and appealed to both sides to observe the ceasefire it brokered over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Russia made a new appeal to Armenia and Azerbaijan to stop fighting in and around the mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh after the warring sides accused each other of fresh ceasefire violations. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu made the appeal by telephone to the Azeri and Armenian defence ministers, urging the countries to "fully meet the commitments" made under the fraying humanitarian ceasefire. Each side denied violating the ceasefire over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but is governed and populated by ethnic Armenians.