The president of Azerbaijan is promising that Christian churches will be protected when the strongly Muslim country takes possession of areas formerly controlled by Armenians, as residents burned down their homes and fled in cars and trucks ahead of Sunday’s expected takeover.
President Ilham Aliyev’s office said he made the promise in a telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is deploying peacekeeping forces in the areas under an agreement that ended six weeks of fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Ethnic Armenian forces had controlled Nagorno-Karabakh and sizeable adjacent territories since 1994, after the end of a separatist war. Fighting resumed in late September and ended with an agreement that calls for Azerbaijan to regain control of the outlying territories as well as allowing it to keep parts of Nagorno-Karabakh that it seized during the recent fighting. The first of the territories, Kalbajar, was to be turned over on Sunday. But Azerbaijan agreed at the last minute to give Armenian forces and civilians until Nov. 25 to withdraw.
Some description text for this item