July 23 marks the 21st anniversary of Aghdam (Akna) liberation.
Liberation of Shushi in 1992 decreased but didn’t eliminate the threat to the towns of Nagorno Karabakh Republic. Azerbaijani military-political leadership viewed its air force and heavy artillery as means of intimidating the Armenian population, rather than fulfillment of fire support tasks.
After the Shushi liberation, Azeri military leadership transported most artillery to Agdam province, with the enemy group posing constant danger to Martakert and Martuni defensive provinces of the NKR.
All the surrounding settlements including Stepanakert were shelled from Agdam; Armenian villages of Askeran, Martakert and Martuni provinces were destroyed, with Askeran almost entirely ravaged by Azeri artillery.
Hence, seizure of Agdam and suppression of firing points became a vital necessity. On July 23, Artsakh forces launched an offensive on both sides and seized the town, forcing out the Azeris.
“The population didn’t want us to defend them. They all fled the town,” an Azeri officer recollected.
Agdam liberation ensured Askeran civilians’ security. Moreover, the operation eliminated the threat to systematic shelling of NKR capital, as well as attacks against Askeran and neighboring provinces.
In November of 2010, the NKR government ruled to rename the town of Agdam to Akna, with a status of a province. Akna, which currently has a population of 360, may in future regain the status of an independent settlement.