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On November 25, Azerbaijani troops entered the district of Kalbajar in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The district was handed over to Baku under the ceasefire deal reached between Armenia and Azerbaijan to put an end to the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War earlier in November.
In total, Armenian forces were set to hand over the following districts: Agdam, Kalbajar, and Lachin, excluding the Lachin corridor. Agdam and Kalbajar are already in the hands of Azerbaijani forces. Lachin will be handed over on December 1. Withdrawing Armenians are destroying their properties and even evacuating graves of their relatives. Just a day ago, on November 24, Armenians troops blew up their barracks in Kalbajar.
In these conditions, the presence of the Russian peacekeepers remains the only guarantee of the security of the local Armenian population. And Russian forces already suffered first casualties as a part of this mission. On November 23, a Russian peacekeeper, four employees of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic were wounded, and an Azerbaijani officer was killed in a mine explosion near the village of Magadiz. A joint group, that also included representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, was searching bodies of those killed in the war.
A large number of IEDs, not exploded ammunition and projectiles are an important security factor that prevents the potential return of displaced civilians to Nagorno-Karabkah. A group of Russian sappers has been already working on demining key roads and areas in the Russian zone of responsibility. Baku also vowed to demine territories that its forces captured and already started building a new road linking the town of Shusha and Ahmedbeyli.
In the coming months, the security and humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabkah will likely improve, but there are almost zero chances the Armenian population that fled the Azerbaijani advance would return. Therefore, the Azerbaijani-controlled part of Nagorno-Karabakh is in fact empty and the Azerbaijani leadership would have to launch some settlement program if it wants re-populate the region.
Pro-Kurdish sources, waging a propaganda campaign against the traditional Azerbaijani ally, Turkey, already claimed that Ankara is planning to settle families of fighters of Turkish-backed Syrian militant groups in Karabakh. According to reports, Turkish authorities opened 2 offices in the Turkish-occupied Syrian town of Afrin for this purpose. If such plans even exist, it is unlikely that Azerbaijan would be happy to support them. The one thing is to use a cheap cannon fodder recruited by the Big Turkish Brother and the very different thing is to allow multiple Syrian radicals to become the permanent factor of your internal security. The implementation of such a plan would inevitably turn the Azerbaijani-controlled part of Nagorno-Karabkah into the hotbed of terrorism.
Meanwhile, Israel has been desperately exploiting the last months of the current Trump presidency term. Early on November 25, the Israeli Air Force carried out a series of airstrikes on targets in the southern countryside of Damascus and the province of Quneitra. According to Syrian state media, missiles were launched from the direction of the occupied Golan Heights. As of now, the Syrian side denies any casualties and claims that the strike caused a material damage only. Pro-Israeli sources insist that the strike led to multiple casualties among Iranian-backed forces and Iranian personnel.
This became the second Israeli strike on Syria in the last 7 days. The previous one took place on November 18 and hit the very same areas, including Damascus International Airport. The activation of the Israeli military activity in the region indicates that Tel Aviv expects a particular decrease of unconditional support that it was receiving from the United States under the Trump administration. Therefore, it seeks to use the last days of this 4-year-long honeymoon as effective as possible. Even more Israeli and potentially US actions against Iranian interests in the region and Iran itself could be expected in the coming weeks.