Turkey sends 36 military officers to man Russian-Turkish monitoring centre in Karabakh

Turkish army personnel assigned to the Russian-Turkish joint truce monitoring centre in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region have left Turkey, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Tuesday.

“Our one general and 35 military officers will start their duty immediately,” state-run Anadolu agency cited Akar as saying at a year’s end meeting over video conference, once the construction is complete.

Turkey and Russia agreed to establish a joint monitoring centre in Nagorno-Karabakh after Nov. 10 when Russia brokered a ceasefire between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed region that is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but was governed by an ethnic Armenian majority.

Conflict broke out in the region on Sept. 27, with both sides accusing each other of kick-starting one of the bloodiest bouts of clashes since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Azerbaijan, with extensive support from Turkey, took over several territories formerly under Armenian control before the ceasefire was put in place.

Earlier in the month, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said the Turkish-Russian joint monitoring centre would be established in the city of Aghdam in Azerbaijan.

In November, Turkey approved the deployment of troops on a peacekeeping mission in the region for one year. Some 2,000 troops will be sent to the region as part of the mission.

Ankara and Baku pushed for the monitoring centre to be established in Nagorno-Karabakh, but the centre is set to remain on Azeri soil. On Nov. 25, Turkish and Russian Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Vladimir Putin signed a memorandum for the establishment of the centre.