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Turkish-Russian centre monitoring Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire due to open

Turkey's Hulusi Akar said Turkish personnel would work at the centre to oversee the maintenance of a ceasefire that ended six weeks of fighting
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev attending a military parade marking Azerbaijan's victory against Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, in Baku in December 2020 (AFP)

A joint Turkish-Russian centre established to observe the ceasefire in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region is set to begin operating on Saturday, Turkey's defence minister said on Friday.

In a statement, Hulusi Akar said one Turkish general and 38 personnel will work at the centre to support efforts to ensure that the ceasefire lasts in the wake of six weeks of fighting between Azerbaijan and the majority Armenian breakaway enclave.

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Turkey and Russia agreed to set up the joint centre to monitor the ceasefire reached between Azerbaijan and Armenia in November.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but mainly populated by ethnic Armenians.

Nagorno-Karabakh proclaimed its independence from Baku following a war in the 1990s but its autonomy has not been recognised internationally, not even by Armenia.

Fighting broke out on 27 September and continued until a Russian-brokered ceasefire was signed on 9 November. Russian peacekeepers were also deployed to the region under the deal.

The peace agreement saw Armenia cede swathes of territory it had controlled for decades to its longstanding rival, provoking outrage among Armenian citizens.

Turkish military support for Azerbaijan was a major factor swinging the conflict in the country's favour.

Amnesty International has said that at least 146 civilians died in the conflict, which claimed the lives of more than 6,000 troops on both sides.