By Jeyhun Aliyev
ANKARA (AA) - The Turkish National Defense Ministry on Wednesday marked the liberation of Azerbaijan's Kalbajar region from Armenia's occupying forces after nearly three decades.
"Heroic Azerbaijani army entered Kalbajar after Aghdam as part of the agreement signed after its great victory in Karabakh." the ministry said on a Twitter statement, adding that Kalbajar "meets its real owners after 27 years".
"Our glorious Star and Crescent [flag] will now hoist in Kalbajar with the sounds of adhan [call to prayer]," it added.
The statement came after Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry early Wednesday announced that the Azerbaijani army entered Kalbajar following 27 years of illegal Armenian occupation.
According to a Russia-brokered cease-fire agreement signed between Baku and Yerevan on Nov. 10 following a 44-day war, Armenia was supposed to leave Kalbajar on Nov. 15 but asked for more time until Nov. 25. Azerbaijan agreed to provide an additional 10 days.
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.
Fresh clashes erupted on Sept. 27, and the Armenian army continued its attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces, even violating three humanitarian cease-fire agreements for over six weeks.
Baku liberated several strategic heights, cities, and nearly 300 of its settlements and villages from the Armenian occupation during this time.
Before the second Karabakh war, about 20% of Azerbaijan's territory had been under illegal Armenian occupation for nearly three decades.
On Nov. 10, the two countries signed a Russia-brokered agreement to end the fighting and work toward a comprehensive solution.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev hailed the agreement as a "victory" for his country and a "defeat of Armenia," saying Baku's military success enabled it to gain an upper hand to end the nearly three-decade-long occupation of its territory.
Meanwhile, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said he had signed an "unspeakably painful" deal which allowed Azerbaijan to claim control over regions it took back in the fighting.
The Turkish leadership also welcomed the truce, terming it a "great victory" for Azerbaijan.