An Azerbaijani army sergeant has crossed into Nagorno-Karabakh and surrendered to Karabakh Armenian forces, military authorities in Stepanakert said on Tuesday.
In a short statement, Karabakh’s Armenia-backed Defense Army said the soldier, identified as Mammadbagirlu Akhundzade, crossed a section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact” bordering Karabakh’s northern Martakert district on Monday afternoon.
The statement said the 21-year-old Akhundzade served in an Azerbaijani army unit on a contractual basis. “Details connected with the incident are being clarified,” the statement added without elaborating.
A separate statement by a Karabakh government commission on prisoners of war and missing persons said regional representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Red Cross have been informed about the soldier’s arrest.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry did not react to these reports as of Tuesday evening.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev visited Azerbaijan’s Geranboy district adjacent to northern Karabakh and inspected troops stationed there on Saturday. Meeting with a group of servicemen, he said that the Azerbaijani army is now much stronger than its Armenian adversary and capable of winning back Karabakh and Armenian-controlled territories around the disputed enclave.
“The Azerbaijani flag must and will fly in Nagorno-Karabakh,” Aliyev said, according to his press service. “I don’t doubt it. Our rising political might and military potential are bringing that holy day closer.”
The Karabakh Armenians and official Yerevan dismiss such threats regularly voiced by Aliyev.