Azerbaijan officials arrest four soldiers suspected of war crimes News
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Azerbaijan officials arrest four soldiers suspected of war crimes

Azerbaijan’s Prosecutor General’s Office announced on Monday that it had detained four soldiers accused of war crimes against Armenians in the recent Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict. The Prosecutor General’s Office denounced the actions of the soldiers, calling them “unacceptable” and contradictory to “the mentality of the Azerbaijani people.”

The Prosecutor General’s report was careful to exonerate Azerbaijani officials, including President Ilham Aliyev, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of Azerbaijan’s military. The report claims that the alleged war crimes were due to a “regrettable” misunderstanding “of the methods and techniques” condoned by Aliyev in “the struggle against the enemy by some servicemen under the influence of the severe psychological state caused by the war.”

The four detained servicemen are Rashad Aliyev, Gardashkhan Abishov, Arzu Huseynov and Umid Aghayev. Aliyev and Abishov recorded their “offensive acts” against the bodies of deceased Armenian soldiers and shared the videos via social media. Huseynov and Aghayev destroyed Armenian gravestones in a village cemetery. These two also recorded their actions and shared the videos through social media.

According to the report, “necessary research will be conducted” to authenticate the videos of these alleged crimes. The Prosecutor General claims that some videos depicting other war crimes “were found to be fake, and there are serious doubts as to whether some of them are true and reflect reality.”

Monday’s announcement follows a report from Human Rights Watch condemning the treatment of Armenian prisoners of war. The December 2 report stated that “there are serious grounds for concern about their safety and well-being” of Armenian prisoners.

Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement on November 10 in an attempt to end the 30-year conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The Russian-brokered ceasefire was seen as a victory for Azerbaijan, as it gave formerly Armenian-occupied territory back to Azerbaijan. However, on Saturday and Sunday, both countries accused the other of breaching the ceasefire. Aliyev said that if fighting with Armenia broke out again, “this time, we will fully destroy them.”

Several prominent Armenian activists have spoken out about the conflict, including the metal band System of a Down. The band released two songs, their first music in 15 years, to “spread awareness about this humanitarian catastrophe.” Singer Serj Tankian claimed that Azerbaijan, aided by Turkey, purposely conducted an attack on Armenia to retake the occupied territory during the COVID-19 Pandemic: “Who attacks a country during COVID?”

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