Azerbaijan on Tuesday released 17 Armenian prisoners of war captured during its most recent large-scale attack on Armenia’s sovereign territory last month. Armenia’s Defense Ministry said that the release was facilitated by the mediation of the United States.
Armenia’s Security Chief Armen Grigoryan, in a social media statement, said that the release of the POWs was a result of a meeting he had with Azerbaijan’s presidential advisor Hikmet Hajiyev last week in Washington, hosted by White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
“I hope that the efforts of the three parties will continue to produce positive results for the resolution of humanitarian issues, regional stability and peace, and all agreements will be fulfilled,” Grigoryan said in a Facebook post on Tuesday. “Armenia continues to adhere to all the agreements reached in Washington.”
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan also thanked the U.S. for its mediation to release the POWs.
“I greatly appreciate the efforts of the United States for assisting to return our 17 POW’s. I hope with joint efforts together with our international partners we will further register progress in resolving both humanitarian issues and establishing peace in the region,” Pashinyan said in a tweet.
Following the Sullivan-initiated meeting last week, Azerbaijan announced that it was holding 17 Armenian soldiers as prisoners of war.
The release of the POWs on Tuesday comes amid an international over a video that was posted on social media on Sunday depicting the gruesome execution of Armenian soldiers by Azerbaijani forces. On Monday, Armenia’s defense ministry authenticated the video and the country’s Human Rights Defender, Kristinee Grigoryan, said that her office can verify that the incident took place during the time of the September 13 attack on Armenia.
The United States was one of the international entities calling for an immediate investigation into the incident depicted on the video.
On Tuesday France and Canada joined the chorus of shock and condemnation.
The European Union’s representatives to the Caucasus Toivo Klaar said on Monday that if the incident, indeed occurred then it will deemed a war crime.