Hundreds of Azerbaijani soldiers paraded Wednesday through Khankendi, the capital city of the Karabakh region that came under full control of Azerbaijan in September after a lightning rout of ethnic Armenian forces.
“We showed the whole world the strength, determination and indomitable spirit of the Azerbaijani people,” Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev said in an address at the parade, which also included tanks and military equipment that was seized from Armenian forces.
Khankendi, which Armenians called Stepanakert, was the headquarters of the self-declared separatist government of Nagorno-Karabakh. The region and sizable surrounding territory came under control of ethnic Armenians at the 1994 end of a separatist war.
But Azerbaijan regained parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and most of the surrounding territory in 2020 after a six-week war. That fighting ended with a Russia-brokered truce between Azerbaijan and Armenia that called for Russian peacekeeping forces to be deployed in the Khankendi area and to ensure open transit along a road connecting the city with Armenia.
However, Azerbaijan began blockading that road last winter, leading to severe food and medicine shortages in the Armenian-held area. Then in September, it launched a blitz that forced the separatist forces to disband.
More than 100,000 ethnic Armenians fled the region in the following days, leaving the city nearly deserted.
The parade marked Azerbaijan’s Victory Day, a holiday that commemorates the retaking of territory in 2020.