Thousands of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians run to the airport, where some of the Russian peacekeepers are basedfollowing the ceasefire agreement reached with Azerbaijan by the separatist forces of this breakaway Azeri enclave, the day after the military offensive launched by Baku.

The Armenians of the enclave announced that they will lay down their arms as part of the truce which entered into force today at 12:00 Greek time.

The separatists who rule the self-proclaimed “Republic of Artsakh” (as the separatists call Nagorno-Karabakh) urged the region’s 120,000 residents not to rush to the airport in Stepanakert, the enclave’s capital.

“We once again call on the residents of Stepanakert not to panic and not to rush to the airport to leave the area,” the separatists said.

Images from Karabakh they show thousands of people at the airportsome have small children with them.

Nagorno-Karabakh’s separatist leaders have repeatedly accused Baku of wanting to carry out ethnic cleansing in the enclave. Baku rejects such accusations and says it will protect the rights of Armenian civilians in the region under its own constitution.

The Armenians, Christians in religionhave a long historical dominant presence in the region, dating back to centuries before Christ.

Azerbaijan, where the majority of the population is Muslim, also connects its historical identity with the enclave. It accuses Armenians of driving out Azeris living in the region in the 1990s. Baku wants to gain full control of the region, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.

Representatives of the Armenians of Karabakh are scheduled to hold a meeting tomorrow, Thursday, with the Azeri authorities.

Russia stressed that its peacekeeping forces are fulfilling their mission.

Moscow said 2,261 people, including 1,049 children, were evacuated from war zones and are being hosted at a Russian peacekeeping base.

At the same time, the Azeri government emphasized today that it wants to peacefully integrate the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakhafter the capitulation of the enclave’s separatist forces.

Hikmet Hajiyev, foreign policy adviser to Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, stressed at a press conference that the disarmament of Karabakh forces would enhance the chances of successful reintegration of the territory, which had been outside Baku’s control for three decades, as well as the prospects peace agreement between Baku and Yerevan.

The Azeri official also dismissed as unnecessary the involvement of the UN Security Council, arguing that any issues should be resolved locally.