During the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, 1,483 Armenian prisoners of war and hostages were released, Eldar Samadov, deputy head of the Working Group of Azerbaijan’s State Commission on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing Persons, said.
He was speaking at a conference titled “Criminal acts of Armenians against the Azerbaijani people and their tangible and cultural monuments in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict”, held in Baku Dec. 10, Trend reports.
Samadov stressed that Armenia is holding three Azerbaijani hostages.
“There is also one Armenian hostage on the Azerbaijani side,” he said. “Azerbaijan continues the necessary measures to release Dilgam Asgarov, Shahbaz Guliyev and Elnur Huseynzade held hostage in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. The release of these people is in the center of attention of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.”
Samadov noted that President Ilham Aliyev, who participated in the informal summit of the CIS heads of state in St. Petersburg, during a meeting with Armenian acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan discussed the issue of mutual exchange of persons held in Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“The main issue is the collection and storage of DNA samples from close relatives of missing persons,” Samadov said. “A special place has been allocated for storing the samples in Azerbaijan’s State Security Service (SSS) hospital, and 5,889 samples have been collected so far regarding 1,943 missing persons.”
During an operation in July 2014 in the Shaplar village of Azerbaijani Kalbajar district, occupied by Armenia, the Armenian special forces killed an Azerbaijani, Hasan Hasanov, and took hostage two other Azerbaijanis, Shahbaz Guliyev and Dilgam Asgarov. A “criminal case” was initiated against them. Afterwards, a “court” sentenced Asgarov to life imprisonment and Guliyev to 22 years in prison.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.