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Brave military tactics secured success in Second Karabakh War

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The Azerbaijani people celebrated the liberation of Shusha, waving the flags of Azerbaijan in the streets of Baku. (Photo: MENAFN- Trend News Agency)

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On November 8, Azerbaijanis across the world celebrate Victory Day in honor of their victory during the Second Karabakh War, which led to the liberation of Shusha, the cultural capital city of Azerbaijan.

After the battle for Shusha was won, the trilateral peace statement was signed, which led to the conclusion of the Second Karabakh War. In 2020, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev decreed that this historic occasion should be a national holiday, where all citizens of Azerbaijan don’t work. 

The Azerbaijani Culture Ministry is unveiling a series of events to celebrate the first anniversary of this great historic event. According to the  Azerbaijani media, these include a concert titled “Karabakh is Azerbaijan” featuring the Azerbaijan State Symphony Orchestra, the Azerbaijan State Choir Capella and soloists at the Heydar Aliyev Palace; “Let the Khan’s voice be aired” at the International Mugham Center; “Jazz says victory” concert at the State Children’s Philharmonic; the Javad Khan Ballet at the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater; and more.

For the Azerbaijani people, the liberation of the city of Shusha is of great importance.  When I visited Azerbaijan last summer, I met members of the Azerbaijani Diaspora, who came all the way from the United States during a pandemic to visit Shusha, after the city was liberated from the brutal Armenian occupation. 

When I visited Shusha, the Azerbaijani government was busy reconstructing the city.  Although the home of a great Azerbaijani national poet Khurshidbanu Natavan, the national bank, the local government offices, the local newspaper offices, and many other important landmarks lay in ruins, the reconstruction of the Shusha fort was completed when I was there.  I saw construction workers laying the finishing touches on the fort. One mosque, which the Armenians had transformed into an Iranian mosque, was also operational when I was there and the construction work of another mosque I saw was ongoing.  

Since last summer, two hotels were renovated in Shusha, an airport was built in Fizuli and Zangilan, the Victory Road connecting Fizuli to Shusha was built, and work recently started on a local railway line.  

The Azerbaijanis also recently renovated the museum mausoleum complex of Azerbaijani national poet Molla Panah Vagif, a monument to the legendary composer Uzeyir Haijibeyli, and the Museum of the People’s Artists of Azerbaijan.

None of this would have been possible if it was not for the unprecedented heroism of the Azerbaijani Special Forces, who liberated Shusha by climbing the mountains with their ammunition and crushing the Armenian forces by close street fighting, where they used mostly pistols followed by hand-to-hand combat. 

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John Spensor, chair of the Urban Warfare Studies at the Modern War Institute, recently told the Azerbaijani media:  “The liberation of Shusha did not follow the principles of a classical war. No drones or other aircrafts were involved in the operation either, and since the city sits on a hill, it should have been hard to attack and take. But the Azerbaijani military used unconventional ways to break up the city’s defense.”

According to him, “One of the biggest stories is that a group of about 400 Azerbaijani special forces, highly trained, moved by foot with little amount of food and water, scaled cliffs, the terrain around Shusha, and broke up into little groups to surround the city without anybody knowing. They took the outskirts of Shusha, sometimes running into armed enemy detachments. That is an amazing use of special operations to attack a city, which is historically very hard to do and costs a lot of casualties.”

“In this operation, we saw the Azerbaijani military’s plan that was well advanced in thinking,” Spensor concluded.  “And it was not the high technology—it was those soldiers quietly climbing the steep rocks and setting up little attack sites all around the city, creating an opening to actually enter the city unnoticed.” 

And it is due to their bravery that Azerbaijanis were able to reclaim their cultural capital city and to celebrate Victory Day on November 8.  

Rachel Avraham is a political analyst working at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights.  She is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings at the American, Israeli and Arab Media.”  

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