The Russian Defense Ministry announced on Friday that Armenian separatists in the Nagorno-Karabakh region began handing over weapons and military equipment under the supervision of Russian peacekeepers in implementation of the ceasefire agreement after the military operation announced by Azerbaijan to restore sovereignty over the region.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the separatists handed over six units of armored vehicles, more than 800 pieces of firearms and about five thousand ammunition.
Azerbaijan has estimated that there are about 10,100 Armenian militants in Karabakh with about <> tanks and armored vehicles.
This development is the result of negotiations between Armenian representatives in the region and the Azerbaijani authorities.
Earlier in the day, Armenian representatives announced in a statement that negotiations are underway with the Azerbaijani side under the auspices of the Russian conservation force, which organizes the withdrawal of troops and ensures the return of citizens displaced by the "military aggression" to their homes. The statement added that the two sides are discussing the procedures for the entry and exit of citizens from the region.
Under the ceasefire agreement, Armenian separatists agreed to lay down arms and on Thursday held a first round of talks with the Azerbaijani side in the Azerbaijani city of Yiflak under the auspices of the Russian side.
Baku said the talks were focused on integrating Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh into Azerbaijan, and the two sides said they were ready to hold additional talks in order to agree on issues still at odds.
After the lightning military operation launched by Azerbaijani forces on Tuesday evening, which lasted about 24 hours, before being suspended after a ceasefire agreement was reached, Baku announced the restoration of sovereignty over the Karabakh region, because of which Azerbaijan and Armenia fought two wars.
No deal yet.
Before Moscow's announcement that the separatists had begun handing over weapons, Armenian representatives denied that an agreement had so far been reached with Azerbaijan on possible amnesty for military formations in the region or security guarantees.
They had also told Al Jazeera that they were conducting these negotiations with the mediation of Russian peacekeepers for the withdrawal of Azerbaijani troops and the return of the region's residents to their homes.
Hikmat Hajiyev, an adviser to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, said Baku was proposing a possible amnesty for Armenian military formations deployed and would give up their weapons in Karabakh.
Hajiyev noted that some individual Armenian units fighting in the region announced that they would not abide by Baku's conditions and would continue to resist.
An aid convoy sent by Azerbaijan to the Armenian population in Qarabakh (Anatolia)
On the outskirts of Stepanakert
Meanwhile, a representative of local authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh told AFP that Azerbaijani military forces had arrived on the outskirts of Stepanakert, the capital of the mountainous region, which lies within Azerbaijan's borders but was under the control of Armenian separatists backed by Yerevan, where they had previously declared what they called the "Republic of Artsakh".
Meanwhile, calm prevails in the region, where there have been no serious incidents between Azerbaijani forces and Armenian separatists since the ceasefire.
Anadolu Agency said the Azerbaijani army was in the process of removing the symbols of the Armenian-backed entity in Karabakh after regaining sovereignty.
Azerbaijani forces are providing humanitarian support to Armenian civilians in the region, she said, noting that they have treated a number of wounded.
Azerbaijani authorities released photos of a humanitarian aid convoy, including food and medicine, sent to the region, and the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Azerbaijan said the delivery of these humanitarian food supplies would continue.
The Armenian population, estimated at 120,<>, has been cut apart, AFP said, adding that numbers of them have taken refuge at Stepanakart airport and Russian peacekeepers headquarters after Azerbaijani forces took control of major roads inside the region, noting that the Armenian population lost most basic services following the latest military operation.
UN Security Council
In New York, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Security Council Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Washington continues to work with the Azerbaijani and Armenian leaderships to reach a lasting solution in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Yesterday, during an urgent session called by France, the Security Council witnessed mutual accusations between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the recent developments.
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said Azerbaijan must accept an international humanitarian presence in Karabakh.
Anti-Pashinyan government protesters in the Armenian capital Yerevan (French)
Meanwhile, Armenian media said security forces had arrested about 100 demonstrators since protests began in the capital Yerevan.
Today, Yerevan witnessed new demonstrations to protest the outcome of the Karabakh region.
Demonstrators gathered in the center of the capital to denounce Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's policy on the region, with protesters demanding Pashinyan to resign.
Hundreds of protesters tried to prevent Prime Minister Nicole from leaving the government building in central Yerevan after chairing a government meeting this morning.
The Al Jazeera correspondent said Armenian security forces removed crowds of protesters from the vicinity of the building to make way for Pashinyan's motorcade to leave the government headquarters.
Armenian opposition forces called on citizens to demonstrate throughout the day to protest Pashinyan's policies in dealing with the Armenian issue in Karabakh.