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Azerbaijan said on Friday its troops had entered a district bordering Nagorno-Karabakh handed back by Armenian separatists after almost 30 years as part of a Russian-brokered peace deal to end weeks of fighting in the region.

Troops moved into the district of Aghdam, one of three due to be handed back, the Azerbaijan defence ministry said, a day after columns of Armenian soldiers and tanks rolled out of the territory.

Armenia will also hand over the Kalbajar district wedged between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia on November 25 and the Lachin district by December 1

“We wanted to build a sauna, kitchen. But now I had to dismantle everything.

Fierce clashes between Azerbaijan’s forces and Armenian separatists broke out in late September in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The brutal war lasted six weeks, leaving thousands dead and displacing many more.

AFP journalists reported that the last residents left the Aghdam area less than an hour before Azerbaijani forces took control.

“They are embarrassing themselves in front of the whole world,” he said.

But Aliyev postponed the deadline by one week over “humanitarian” considerations.

Most of Azerbaijan’s south-western district of Aghdam has been under the control of Armenian separatists since 1993.

In his national address Friday, Aliyev promised Azerbaijanis that they would return to “ancestral lands” in Aghdam.

Azerbaijan has not revealed its military fatalities.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week the total fatalities including dozens of civilians had surpassed 4,000 people.

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