The liberation of the city of Shushi reduced yet did not eliminate the threat to the peaceful cities of Artsakh, especially for the population of the capital city of Stepanakert. The military-political leadership of Azerbaijan viewed its air force and large-caliber artillery not so much as tools to fulfill the tasks of fire assistance to the troops on the battlefield as a means of terrorizing the Armenian population.
Barbaric air and artillery shelling of civilian settlements were aimed at forcing people to leave their places of residence. After the city of Shushi was liberated, the military leadership of Azerbaijan concentrated large quantities of artillery in the area of the town of Akna (Agdam), including BM-21 “Grad” rocket launchers and long-range naval guns.
Stuck like a wedge into the central regions of Artsakh, the enemy combined-arms group operating in Akna was a constant danger to the flanks of the Martakert and Martuni defensive areas. All the localities, including Stepanakert, were methodically bombarded from Akna. Many of the Armenian villages of Askeran, Martakert, and Martuni districts were destroyed. Askeran was particularly affected, having been almost destroyed by the ruthless fire of Azerbaijani artillery.
The Azerbaijanis did not have any shortage of ammunition: an ammunition depot of the Transcaucasian Military District of the USSR Ministry of Defense was located in Akna.
Under these conditions, the capture of Akna and the suppression of its firing points became a vital task. The military operation to take the city lasted less than three days. On July 23, the Artsakh troops launched an offensive from two directions and, surrounding the city, forced the Azerbaijanis troops to leave it.
The city was taken surprisingly quickly. As an Azerbaijani officer would write in his memoirs, having arrived there, he did not understand one thing: “The population did not want us to protect them. They all fled.”
The liberation of Akna ensured the security of the peaceful population of Askeran district and the capital of Artsakh the city of Stepanakert. It became possible to use the Martuni-Akna-Martakert bypass route. Moreover, the threat of not only systematic shelling of the capital of Artsakh but also the attack on Askeran and adjacent areas were eliminated.
In November 2010, the Artsakh government decided to rename the town of Agdam Akna, with the aim of reorganizing the town into a district subordinate to the city of Askeran. In the future, Akna may be returned its status of an independent settlement. Currently, about 500 people live in Akna.