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The Battle of Calilabad


Agostinho Neto
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So much for the truce. Despite promises by the Talysh president to "cease all hostilities," a Talish tank battalion is "occupying the Azerbaijani city of Calilabad," the Azeri Army reports. More than a dozen tanks roamed the center of Calilabad, a strategic city south of the country. The commander of the Talysh battalion that the Talysh soldiers were looking for Azeri officials commanding the souther front, but the city was earlier abbandoned infront of the imminent attack. Occasional gunfire could be heard around the city, mainly azeri partisans, waiting for the regulars to come and rescue them.

The Talysh soldiers were letting civilians leave Calilabad but were preventing anyone from entering. And things may be about to take a decided turn for the worst. "An Azeri reporter later saw dozens of tanks and military vehicles leaving Calilabad, roaring north, and an entire azeri armoured division moving south to counter the invasion". Troops waved at journalists and one soldier shouted to a photographer: "Come with us, beauty, we're going to Baku!" But the convoy turned north, left the highway about a two hours drive from the capital and started setting up camp.

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The remote and desertic region in southern Azerbaijan turned into a freshly opened war zone as Government forces opened fire from the ground and the air on Talysh militants who occupied several villages along the border and the City of Calilabad.

Facing one of the most direct challenges to Baku's authority in the troubled Transcaucasus region since the disastrous 2 months war, Talysh President Alikram Hummatov arrived today in the occupied border towns, joining a lineup of top military and Interior Ministry commanders. Talysh forced today redoubled artillery and rocket attacks on the towns north of Calilabad, forcing Azeri troops to retreat and reform, after more than 2,000 residents -- mostly women and children -- fled the area. The emergency service reports 29 injured and 3 dead, the Azerbaijani aviation in retaliation , launched an air strike on the Talysh capital, injuring 3 and killing 5.

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Azeri troops have begun a major offensive to retake the strategic town of Calilabad in southern Azerbaijan from the Talysh Popular Front, Azeri sources said. The Azeri Government says Azeri ground troops used heavy gunfire against the Talysh militants on the outskirts of Calilabad. Soldiers were dropped by helicopter before sunset to carry out an overnight assault using night vision equipment. The Talysh Popular Front says they have 2,000 troops defending the town in the southern province, which they seized yesterday. Calilabad is the only substantial town the Talysh hold in Azerbaijan. For now, they say they are holding their ground.

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