First phase of massacres committed by Armenian militants in Iravan governorate began in January-February 1918: Historian
Archival documents and periodicals contain enough materials on an act of genocide committed by Armenian nationalists against Azerbaijanis and the destruction of the residential settlements of Azerbaijanis in 1918-1920, Nazim Mustafa, a doctor of philosophy in history and a Board member of the Western Azerbaijan Community, told News.Az.
He noted that after the change of power in Russia in November 1917, Armenian militants, who seized the weapons of Russian troops forced to retreat from Eastern Anatolia and the Caucasus front, committed acts of genocide against Turks and Azerbaijanis.
The historian stressed that the first phase of massacres committed by Armenian armed groups against Azerbaijan in the Iravan Governorate began in January-February 1918. He said until March 1918, Armenian militants destroyed a total of 198 villages in the Iravan Governorate - 32 villages in Iravan district, 84 villages in Echmiadzin district, 7 villages in Novo-Bayazid village, and 75 villages in Surmali district, and nearly 135,000 our compatriots were subjected to genocide in these districts.
“According to the Turkish intelligence data about the situation at the Caucasus front on 18 March 1918, Armenian armed groups numbered 50,000, and up to 20 British officers were actively involved in the formation of these groups,” N. Mustafa said.
The historian continued: “After the liberation by Turkish forces of Kars from the Armenian occupation in April 1918, the Andronik-led troops retreated and entered the city of Gyumri and then moved in the direction of Akhilkelek. After destroying the villages of Boyuk Shishtepe, Ilanli, Duzkend, Garanamaz, and Tezekend located along the Arpachay River in Aghbaba district, the troops devastated the Turkic villages of neighboring Khojabey (later Bogdanovka district) district. After being defeated by Turkish forces in Akhilkelek, from May 14 to 18, Andronik’s militants destroyed the Azerbaijani villages in Voronsovka (later Kalinin district) and Jalaloghlu (later Stepanyan district) districts adjacent to the Iravan Governorate.”
The historian further said that the Andronik-led troops, which were defeated by Turkish forces in Voronsovka and Jalaloghlu on May 21-22, crossed Loru district into Dilijan district. Having moved through the Garagoyunlu gorge, on June 12, the militants destroyed the Azerbaijani villages in Akhta district on the shore of Goycha Lake, and then they devastated Novo-Bayazid (Kever) district and villages of Dereleyez province.
“On June 20, 1918, the Andronik-led troops committed massacres in Nakhchivan and then entered South Azerbaijan through Julfa. After perpetrating an act of genocide in the town of Khoy on June 24, the Armenian militants launched an attack on Urmia. The studies conducted show that the Armenian militants, having feared encountering Turkish troops, returned to Nakhchivan and entered Zangezur through the Okhchu Valley in early August. By April 1919, Andronik’s troops destroyed more than 500 Turkish-Muslim settlements on the route from Erzurum to Zangezur,” he added.