By Vafa Ismayilova
The Azerbaijani and Turkish sappers continue clearing of mines formerly occupied territories following the victory in the war with Armenia in 2020.
Sappers of the Azerbaijani army along with their Turkish colleagues de-mined over 7,000 hectares of liberated lands and the de-mined areas have been transferred to the relevant state structures, Defence Ministry officer Jeyhun Baghirov said.
He added that Azerbaijan plans to purchase from Turkey 20 more pieces of the MEMATT mine-clearing equipment.
"Half of this consignment has already been delivered to Azerbaijan, and at the moment this equipment is already being used for de-mining," he said.
Speaking about the peculiarities of the equipment, the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry serviceman Mirsafar Aliyev said that it is controlled from a distance of 500 meters.
“In the event of an explosion during the de-mining, the staff is safe. The equipment is capable of neutralizing mines located at a depth of 20-25 cm, in an area from 500 to 1,000 meters long and 170 cm wide," he said.
Azerbaijani territories liberated from Armenia's occupation in the 44-war in autumn 2020 are currently being demined at a high pace. The Mine Action Agency experts demine the territories intended for building roads and infrastructure facilities, and for laying cable communication lines. The territories aimed for cropping are also being cleared of mines.
Over 140 Azerbaijan citizens have been killed or injured in mine explosions since November 10, 2020.
Armenia deliberately and constantly planted mines on Azerbaijani territories, in violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention, thereby being a major threat to regional peace, security and cooperation.
Until the June 12 agreement to hand over 15 Armenian detainees to Armenia in exchange for mine maps for Aghdam, Yerevan refused to provide maps of hundreds of thousands of mines it had planted on the Azerbaijani territories over three decades of occupation.
Azerbaijan's Mine Action Agency defused 7,449 antipersonnel mines, 3,643 anti-tank mines, and 9,033 unexploded munitions from November 10, 2020, to May 31, 2021. In this period, the agency cleared 2,763.5 hectares of mines and unexploded ordnance.
Azerbaijan has made numerous appeals to international organizations and lodged an intergovernmental complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over Armenia's refusal to provide maps of mines in the formerly occupied territories.
The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan ended on November 10 with the signing of a trilateral peace deal by the Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian leaders.
The peace agreement stipulated the return of Azerbaijan's Armenian-occupied Kalbajar, Aghdam and Lachin regions. Before the signing of the deal, the Azerbaijani army had liberated around 300 villages, settlements, city centres and historic Shusha city. The Azerbaijani army declared a victory against the Armenian troops. The signed agreement obliged Armenia to withdraw its troops from the Azerbaijani lands that it has occupied since the early 1990s.
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