Azeri troops stationed at the village of Chojuk Merjenli (or Cocuq Mərcanlı as it is written in Azeri) in southwestern Azerbaijan held a day of leisure aimed at boosting moral and integrating their presence with local villagers.
The event was organised by the Ministry of Defence , with the participation of delegations from the Ministry of Youth and Sport, the Fund of Aid for Youth and local media outlets. A concert was held for the troops, while villagers and members of the different delegations visited the living quarters of the troops.
Official photos published from the event
An emphasis was put on the liberation of the village during the short-lived 2016 April war, particularly with the Azeri Armed Forces taking control of the Leletepe heights. The guests and troops also paid a visit to the local monument for fallen soldiers of the mentioned conflict, which included a simple soldiers as well as high-ranking officers, including several lieutenants and majors.
It is worth mentioning that,contrary to popular belief, the village itself was not actually liberated during the 2016 conflict, as it had been under Azeri control since the end of the first Karabakh war in 1994. What changed in 2016 was that Azeri military units were able to overpower the Armenian garrison there, essentially taking the strategic heights under their control. As a result, the line of contact in that segment was pushed back approximately 1 km, thus removing the village from the line-of-fire from Armenian troops. Consequently, parts of the village were reconstructed and homes awarded to locals who wished to settle there. Nonetheless, the area still remains desolate and mainly populated by military garrisons.
According to eyewitnesses, many mines still litter the surrounding areas, which were subject to major fighting in the last months of the war in 1994, changing sides several times and causing heavy losses on both sides.