By Ruslan Rehimov
BAKU, Azerbaijan (AA) - Azerbaijanis flocked Friday to the Alley of Martyrs here in the capital to commemorate martyrs and celebrate the liberation of Aghdam district which was under illegal Armenian occupation for nearly three decades.
Residents visited the Alley of Martyrs holding Azerbaijani and Turkish flags as the nation’s armed forces entered Aghdam in the Karabakh region after 27 years of occupation.
They sang the national anthem, chanted slogans and expressed overwhelming emotions that the occupation had finally come to an end.
The people of Aghdam -- who lived for years in different Azerbaijani cities as internally displaced persons – and others shed tears as their ancestral homeland was liberated.
The Azerbaijani army entered the district as part of a cease-fire deal with Armenia that was brokered by Russia last week.
Azerbaijani soldiers first cleared roads to Aghdam from mines and later entered the city with armored vehicles and tanks.
Footage obtained by Anadolu Agency showed soldiers, who went to a local mosque, clearing the surrounding area and hanging flags on the mosque and its minaret.
The call to prayer, or adhan, was heard at the local mosque in Aghdam for the first time in 27 years.
Armenian forces occupied 77% of the district in 1993, forcibly displacing nearly 200,000 Azerbaijanis from their homeland.
Relations between the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
New clashes erupted Sept. 27 and the Armenian army continued attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces, even violating humanitarian cease-fire agreements for 44 days.
Baku liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages from Armenian occupation during this time.
On Nov. 10, the two countries signed a Russia-brokered agreement to end fighting and work toward a comprehensive resolution.
The truce is seen as a victory for Azerbaijan, and a defeat for Armenia.
* Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev and Merve Aydogan from Ankara