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Azerbaijanis who fled a separatist region decades ago ache to return, but it could be a long wait
The sudden capitulation of ethnic Armenian forces in a separatist region of Azerbaijan raises hopes for the return of thousands of people who fled the territory decades ago
BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — As a young man starting out as a dentist, Nazim Valiyev was forced to flee his home as ethnic violence roiled a separatist region inside Azerbaijan. More than three decades later, with his medical career over after a stroke, the 60-year-old hopes he can return there, now that it is back under Azerbaijani control.
It could still be years, however, before he realizes his dream.
Valiyev is among the estimated 700,000 Azerbaijanis who fled or were forced out of the region they call Karabakh amid violence that flared beginning in 1988 and then grew into an outright war.
That conflict ended in 1994, with the territory under the control of ethnic Armenian forces supported by their neighboring country. A subsequent war in 2020 returned control of much of the area to Azerbaijan, and a lightning offensive last month forced the Armenian separatists to relinquish the rest of the region known elsewhere as Nagorno-Karabakh.