By Vugar Khalilov
Azerbaijan marks the 103rd anniversary of Baku's liberation from the occupation of Armenian and Bolshevik units by the Caucasus Islamic Army.
The Caucasus Islamic Army led by Turkish commander Nuru Pasha together with the newly-formed Azerbaijani National Army and volunteers liberated Baku from the Armenian and Bolshevik occupation on September 15 in 1918. Following the liberation, Baku was declared the capital of the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic, which became the first democratic republic in the Muslim East.
In all, 1,132 fighters of the Caucasus Islamic Army were martyred during the liberation of Baku.
On the eve of its declaration of independence in 1918, there was a complicated and dangerous military-political situation in Azerbaijan. Most of its territories, including Baku, were under the occupation of foreign forces that threatened the independence and existence of the Azerbaijani people.
Due to objective historical reasons, when the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was proclaimed, there were not enough military forces to defend its independence. Therefore, the Azerbaijani government sought the Ottoman Empire's military assistance. After this appeal, the Caucasus Islamic Army was established on the basis of the Azerbaijani national forces and Turkish military forces that arrived in Azerbaijan under Nuru Pasha, who was appointed commander of the army.
In the last days of July 1918, with the concentration of the Islamic Army forces around Baku, the Baku Soviet, led by ethnic Armenian Stepan Shaumyan, was forced to hand over the city control to the Menshevik-dashnak government called the Central Caspian dictatorship.
After the Central Caspian dictatorship declared itself as Baku's ruler, dashnaks invited the British forces led by General Dunsterville in Iran to Baku. As a result, the first units of the 39th British Brigade were brought to Baku by ship from Anzali on August 4, 1918.
First large-scale attack
The first large-scale attack launched on August 5, 1918, by the Caucasus Islamic Army forces to clear Baku did not yield the expected results due to difficulties in supplies to continue the war.
After the analysis was conducted in the frontline, Azerbaijan appealed to the Turkish Defence Ministry for sending more forces. Desiring Baku's liberation as soon as possible, Anvar Pasha ordered to send the 15th Infantry Division around Baku.
Measures were also taken to re-mobilize the existing forces inside Azerbaijan. Units of the Agdash regiment were brought here to assist the national forces around Baku, and the national forces gathered around Gazakh and Ganja were instructed to be sent there too.
On September 10, Caucasus Islamic Army Commander Nuru Pasha and Azerbaijani Corps Commander Aliagha Shikhlinsky came around Baku to organize the attack. Nuru Pasha and Aliagha Shikhlinsky got acquainted with the situation around the city. Nuru Pasha signed a decisive order to launch a decisive attack on Baku on the night of September 14.
At 8 o'clock in the evening, the British forces were ordered to retreat. Thus, the leaders of the Centro-Caspian dictatorship lost the main forces on which they had hoped. Although Baku was not captured by the Caucasus Islamic Army on 14 September, its fate had already been decided.
On September 15, the forces of the Caucasus Islamic Army continued their successful attack and came closer to solving the task. Seeing that there was no way out, the Central Caspian leadership asked the Iranian consul in Baku to mediate to stop the attack on Baku.
On September 15, after negotiations between the parties, the Central Caspian leadership undertook to bring Baku under the control of the Caucasus Islamic Army. Thus, Baku was completely liberated by the Caucasus Islamic Army. The forces of the Central Caspian Dictatorship in the city escaped by boat and those who could not escape surrendered.
Anvar Pasha wrote in a telegram to Nuru Pasha: "I welcome the news of the conquest of Baku, a rich guest place of the Great Turan Empire on the Caspian Sea. Turkish and Islamic history will not forget your service. I will kiss the eyes of our veterans and bless our martyrs."
The founder of the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic, Mammad Amin Rasulzade, heard the news of Baku's liberation while in Istanbul. In a telegram to Azerbaijani Prime Minister Fatali Khan Khoyski, he congratulated the Azerbaijani nation and government on this historic event.
"On the occasion of the liberation of Baku, the stronghold of the Turkish nation fighting for freedom and independence, I heartily congratulate and greet the head of your government," the telegram said.
Early in the morning of September 16, an official parade of the Caucasus Islamic Army forces took place. The Azerbaijani government also took part in the official procession. Baku residents took to the streets to greet the victorious fighters of the Caucasus Islamic Army.
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