Armenia, Azerbaijan agree to end fight in Nagorno-Karabakh

In this photo taken from the Associated Press Television video, people stuck in a traffic jam as they leave the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. Many thousands of ethnic Armenians are fleeing Nagorno-Karabakh as Azerbaijanian forces continue their advance. (AP Photo)
In this photo taken from the Associated Press Television video, people stuck in a traffic jam as they leave the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. Many thousands of ethnic Armenians are fleeing Nagorno-Karabakh as Azerbaijanian forces continue their advance. (AP Photo)

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Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to halt fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan under an agreement signed with Russia that calls for deployment of nearly 2,000 Russian peacekeepers and territorial concessions

YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — Armenia and Azerbaijan announced an agreement early Tuesday to halt fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan under a pact signed with Russia that calls for deployment of nearly 2,000 Russian peacekeepers and territorial concessions.

Nagorno-Karabakh has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a 1994 truce ended a separatist war in which an estimated 30,000 people died. Sporadic clashes occurred since then, and full-scale fighting began on Sept. 27.

Several cease-fires had been called but were almost immediately violated. However, the agreement announced early Tuesday appeared more likely to take hold because Azerbaijan has made significant advances, including taking control of the strategically key city of Shushi on Sunday.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on Facebook that calling an end to the fight was “extremely painful for me personally and for our people.”

Soon after the announcement, thousands of people streamed to the main square in the Armenian capital Yerevan to protest the agreement, many shouting, “We won't give up our land!” Some of them broke into the main government building, saying they were searching for Pashinian, who apparently had already departed..

The agreement calls for Armenian forces to turn over control of some areas it held outside the borders of Nagorno-Karabakh, including the eastern district of Agdam. That area carries strong symbolic weight for Azerbaijan because its main city, also called Agdam, was thoroughly pillaged, and the only building remaining intact is the city's mosque.

Armenians will also turn over the Lachin region, which holds the main road leading from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. The agreement calls for the road, the so-called Lachin Corridor, to remain open and be protected by Russian peacekeepers.

In all, 1,960 Russian peacekeepers are to be deployed in the region under a five-year mandate.

The agreement also calls for transport links to be established through Armenia linking Azerbaijan and its western exclave of Nakhcivan, which is surrounded by Armenia, Iran and Turkey.

Azerbaijani forces on Monday shot down a Russian helicopter that was flying over Armenia near the border with Nakhchivan, killing two servicemen. Azerbaijan's foreign ministry said the helicopter was flying low and "in the context of these factors and in light of the tense situation in the region and increased combat readiness in connection with possible provocations of the Armenian side, the duty combat crew decided to open fire to kill.”

The seizure of Shushi, which Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev claimed Sunday and was confirmed by Nagorno-Karabakh's presidential spokesman Monday, gave Azerbaijan a significant strategic advantage. The city is positioned on heights overlooking the regional capital of Stepanakert, 10 kilometers (six miles) to the north.

“Unfortunately, we are forced to admit that a series of failures still haunt us, and the city of Shushi is completely out of our control,” Vagram Pogosian, a spokesman for the president of the government in Nagorno-Karabakh, said in a statement on Facebook. “The enemy is on the outskirts of Stepanakert.”

Since the 1994 end of the previous war, international mediation efforts by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's “Minsk Group” to determine the region’s final status faltered and the region was separated from the rest of Azerbaijan by a demilitarized zone.

Aliyev on Monday urged U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to intensify mediation efforts. In a congratulatory letter to Biden on his election victory, Aliev said, “Azerbaijan expects the United States and other OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs to step up their efforts to find a just solution to the conflict.”

Armenia says more than 1,200 Armenian troops have been killed in the war. Azerbaijan hasn't stated its losses.

___

Associated Press writers Jim Heintz in Moscow and Aida Sultanova in London contributed to this report.

People shout as they broke into the government building protesting against an agreement to halt fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, in Yerevan, Armenia Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. Armenia and Azerbaijan announced an agreement early Tuesday to halt fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan under a pact signed with Russia that calls for deployment of nearly 2,000 Russian peacekeepers and territorial concessions. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
People shout as they broke into the government building protesting against an agreement to halt fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, in Yerevan, Armenia Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. Armenia and Azerbaijan announced an agreement early Tuesday to halt fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan under a pact signed with Russia that calls for deployment of nearly 2,000 Russian peacekeepers and territorial concessions. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Credit: Dmitri Lovetsky

Credit: Dmitri Lovetsky

People protest against an agreement to halt fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, inside the government building in Yerevan, Armenia Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. Armenia and Azerbaijan announced an agreement early Tuesday to halt fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan under a pact signed with Russia that calls for deployment of nearly 2,000 Russian peacekeepers and territorial concessions. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
People protest against an agreement to halt fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, inside the government building in Yerevan, Armenia Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. Armenia and Azerbaijan announced an agreement early Tuesday to halt fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan under a pact signed with Russia that calls for deployment of nearly 2,000 Russian peacekeepers and territorial concessions. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Credit: Dmitri Lovetsky

Credit: Dmitri Lovetsky

In this handout photo released by Armenian Emergency Ministry Press Office on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, shows wreckage of a downed Russian military helicopter which was shot down in Armenia near the border with Azerbaijan. Two servicemen were killed, but the Russian Defense Ministry said the aircraft was outside the conflict area. The helicopter was downed near the border with Nakhcivan, an exclave of Azerbaijan surrounded by Armenia, Turkey and Iran. It was not clear who shot it down. (Armenian Emergency Ministry Press Office via AP)
In this handout photo released by Armenian Emergency Ministry Press Office on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, shows wreckage of a downed Russian military helicopter which was shot down in Armenia near the border with Azerbaijan. Two servicemen were killed, but the Russian Defense Ministry said the aircraft was outside the conflict area. The helicopter was downed near the border with Nakhcivan, an exclave of Azerbaijan surrounded by Armenia, Turkey and Iran. It was not clear who shot it down. (Armenian Emergency Ministry Press Office via AP)

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Protesters shout as they protest against an agreement to halt fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, at the government building in Yerevan, Armenia Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. Armenia and Azerbaijan announced an agreement early Tuesday to halt fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan under a pact signed with Russia that calls for deployment of nearly 2,000 Russian peacekeepers and territorial concessions. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
Protesters shout as they protest against an agreement to halt fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, at the government building in Yerevan, Armenia Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. Armenia and Azerbaijan announced an agreement early Tuesday to halt fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan under a pact signed with Russia that calls for deployment of nearly 2,000 Russian peacekeepers and territorial concessions. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Credit: Dmitri Lovetsky

Credit: Dmitri Lovetsky

This photo taken from a video released by Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, shows Azerbaijan soldiers standing in formation with Azerbaijan's national flag on top of a building in Shushi, in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. President Ilham Aliyev said Sunday that Azerbaijani forces had taken control of the strategically important city in Nagorno-Karabakh, where fighting with Armenia has raged for over a month. (Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry via AP)
This photo taken from a video released by Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, shows Azerbaijan soldiers standing in formation with Azerbaijan's national flag on top of a building in Shushi, in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. President Ilham Aliyev said Sunday that Azerbaijani forces had taken control of the strategically important city in Nagorno-Karabakh, where fighting with Armenia has raged for over a month. (Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry via AP)

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This photo taken from a video released by Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, shows a sign that reads: "Shushi", in a street in Shushi, in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. President Ilham Aliyev said Sunday that Azerbaijani forces had taken control of the strategically important city in Nagorno-Karabakh, where fighting with Armenia has raged for over a month. (Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry via AP)
This photo taken from a video released by Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, shows a sign that reads: "Shushi", in a street in Shushi, in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. President Ilham Aliyev said Sunday that Azerbaijani forces had taken control of the strategically important city in Nagorno-Karabakh, where fighting with Armenia has raged for over a month. (Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry via AP)

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This photo taken from a video released by Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, shows Azerbaijan's national flag with the city of Shushi in the background, in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. President Ilham Aliyev said Sunday that Azerbaijani forces had taken control of the strategically important city in Nagorno-Karabakh, where fighting with Armenia has raged for over a month. (Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry via AP)
This photo taken from a video released by Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, shows Azerbaijan's national flag with the city of Shushi in the background, in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. President Ilham Aliyev said Sunday that Azerbaijani forces had taken control of the strategically important city in Nagorno-Karabakh, where fighting with Armenia has raged for over a month. (Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry via AP)

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A couple walk past a screen displayed Armenian, left, and Nagorno-Karabakh's flags with sign reading 'We will win' in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020.  Azerbaijani forces took control of a strategic city in the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and were nearing its capital, a spokesman for the region's government confirmed Monday. (AP Photo)
A couple walk past a screen displayed Armenian, left, and Nagorno-Karabakh's flags with sign reading 'We will win' in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. Azerbaijani forces took control of a strategic city in the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and were nearing its capital, a spokesman for the region's government confirmed Monday. (AP Photo)

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Armenian and Russian soldiers search the site of wreckage of a downed Russian military helicopter which was shot down in Armenia near the border with Azerbaijan, near Eraskh, Armenia, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. Two servicemen were killed, but the Russian Defense Ministry said the aircraft was outside the conflict area. The helicopter was downed near the border with Nakhcivan, an exclave of Azerbaijan surrounded by Armenia, Turkey and Iran. (AP Photo)
Armenian and Russian soldiers search the site of wreckage of a downed Russian military helicopter which was shot down in Armenia near the border with Azerbaijan, near Eraskh, Armenia, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. Two servicemen were killed, but the Russian Defense Ministry said the aircraft was outside the conflict area. The helicopter was downed near the border with Nakhcivan, an exclave of Azerbaijan surrounded by Armenia, Turkey and Iran. (AP Photo)

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In this handout photo released by Armenian Emergency Ministry Press Office on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, shows wreckage of a downed Russian military helicopter which was shot down in Armenia near the border with Azerbaijan. Two servicemen were killed, but the Russian Defense Ministry said the aircraft was outside the conflict area. The helicopter was downed near the border with Nakhcivan, an exclave of Azerbaijan surrounded by Armenia, Turkey and Iran. It was not clear who shot it down. (Armenian Emergency Ministry Press Office via AP)
In this handout photo released by Armenian Emergency Ministry Press Office on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, shows wreckage of a downed Russian military helicopter which was shot down in Armenia near the border with Azerbaijan. Two servicemen were killed, but the Russian Defense Ministry said the aircraft was outside the conflict area. The helicopter was downed near the border with Nakhcivan, an exclave of Azerbaijan surrounded by Armenia, Turkey and Iran. It was not clear who shot it down. (Armenian Emergency Ministry Press Office via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

Credit: Uncredited

In this handout photo released by Armenian Emergency Ministry Press Office on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, shows wreckage of a downed Russian military helicopter which was shot down in Armenia near the border with Azerbaijan. Two servicemen were killed, but the Russian Defense Ministry said the aircraft was outside the conflict area. The helicopter was downed near the border with Nakhcivan, an exclave of Azerbaijan surrounded by Armenia, Turkey and Iran. It was not clear who shot it down. (Armenian Emergency Ministry Press Office via AP)
In this handout photo released by Armenian Emergency Ministry Press Office on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, shows wreckage of a downed Russian military helicopter which was shot down in Armenia near the border with Azerbaijan. Two servicemen were killed, but the Russian Defense Ministry said the aircraft was outside the conflict area. The helicopter was downed near the border with Nakhcivan, an exclave of Azerbaijan surrounded by Armenia, Turkey and Iran. It was not clear who shot it down. (Armenian Emergency Ministry Press Office via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

Credit: Uncredited

This photo taken from a video released by Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, shows Azerbaijan's national flag fixed to a sign that reads: "Shushi" in Shushi, in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. President Ilham Aliyev said Sunday that Azerbaijani forces had taken control of the strategically important city in Nagorno-Karabakh, where fighting with Armenia has raged for over a month. (Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry via AP)
This photo taken from a video released by Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, shows Azerbaijan's national flag fixed to a sign that reads: "Shushi" in Shushi, in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. President Ilham Aliyev said Sunday that Azerbaijani forces had taken control of the strategically important city in Nagorno-Karabakh, where fighting with Armenia has raged for over a month. (Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry via AP)

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Credit: Uncredited

This photo taken from a video released by Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, shows a view of a street in Shushi, in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. President Ilham Aliyev said Sunday that Azerbaijani forces had taken control of the strategically important city in Nagorno-Karabakh, where fighting with Armenia has raged for over a month. (Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry via AP)
This photo taken from a video released by Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, shows a view of a street in Shushi, in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. President Ilham Aliyev said Sunday that Azerbaijani forces had taken control of the strategically important city in Nagorno-Karabakh, where fighting with Armenia has raged for over a month. (Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry via AP)

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Credit: Uncredited

This photo taken from a video released by Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, shows Shushi castle in Shushi, in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. President Ilham Aliyev said Sunday that Azerbaijani forces had taken control of the strategically important city in Nagorno-Karabakh, where fighting with Armenia has raged for over a month. (Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry via AP)
This photo taken from a video released by Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, shows Shushi castle in Shushi, in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. President Ilham Aliyev said Sunday that Azerbaijani forces had taken control of the strategically important city in Nagorno-Karabakh, where fighting with Armenia has raged for over a month. (Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry via AP)

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This photo taken from a video released by Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, shows a view of Yukhari Govhar Agha Mosque in Shushi, in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. President Ilham Aliyev said Sunday that Azerbaijani forces had taken control of the strategically important city in Nagorno-Karabakh, where fighting with Armenia has raged for over a month. (Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry via AP)
This photo taken from a video released by Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, shows a view of Yukhari Govhar Agha Mosque in Shushi, in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. President Ilham Aliyev said Sunday that Azerbaijani forces had taken control of the strategically important city in Nagorno-Karabakh, where fighting with Armenia has raged for over a month. (Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

Credit: Uncredited

This photo taken from a video released by Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, shows a view of Yukhari Govhar Agha Mosque in Shushi, in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. President Ilham Aliyev said Sunday that Azerbaijani forces had taken control of the strategically important city in Nagorno-Karabakh, where fighting with Armenia has raged for over a month. (Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry via AP)
This photo taken from a video released by Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, shows a view of Yukhari Govhar Agha Mosque in Shushi, in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. President Ilham Aliyev said Sunday that Azerbaijani forces had taken control of the strategically important city in Nagorno-Karabakh, where fighting with Armenia has raged for over a month. (Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry via AP)

Credit: Uncredited

Credit: Uncredited

This photo taken from a video released by Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, shows a view of Shushi, in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. President Ilham Aliyev said Sunday that Azerbaijani forces had taken control of the strategically important city in Nagorno-Karabakh, where fighting with Armenia has raged for over a month. (Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry via AP)
This photo taken from a video released by Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, shows a view of Shushi, in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. President Ilham Aliyev said Sunday that Azerbaijani forces had taken control of the strategically important city in Nagorno-Karabakh, where fighting with Armenia has raged for over a month. (Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry via AP)

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