By Mehmet Tosun
ANKARA (AA) - Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Sunday condemned the Khojaly Massacre, which took place 26 years ago in Azerbaijan’s now-occupied region of Karabakh during the war with Armenia.
"As the Republic of Turkey, we condemn the Khojaly massacre in 1992 during which our Azerbaijani brothers faced cruelty," Yildirim said in a statement.
He said 613 innocent Azerbaijani civilians, including 116 women, 63 children and 70 elderly, had been slaughtered by the Armenian forces in Upper Karabakh on Feb. 26, 1992.
"A total of 1,275 civilians were taken hostage and the fate of 150 persons remains unknown to this day," Yildirim said.
"We urge that the perpetrators of this attack be brought to justice at the earliest. We wish our Azerbaijani brothers and sisters Allah’s mercy. Turkey will always stand by Azerbaijan and its people," he added.
The Foreign Affairs Committee of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey also condemned the massacre in a statement released earlier on Sunday.
"We vehemently condemn these massacres carried out by the troops of the Republic of Armenia as well as the continued occupation of the Azerbaijani territories for years," it said.
Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin also remembered the victims of the massacre. In his tweet, Kalin said that Turkey would always stand by Azerbaijan.
The Khojaly Massacre is regarded as one of the bloodiest and most controversial incidents of the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan for control of the now-occupied Upper Karabakh region.
On the heels of the Soviet Union's dissolution, Armenian forces took over the town of Khojaly in Karabakh on Feb. 26, 1992, after battering it with heavy artillery and tanks, assisted by an infantry regiment.
When the massacre happened, the population of the town was more than 11,000.
The two-hour offensive also critically injured 487 others, according to Azerbaijani figures.