BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) _ Azerbaijani troops pushed Armenian forces out of several villages near Nagorno-Karabakh this week, the first significant advance by Azerbaijan in months, the military said Friday.

Azerbaijani soldiers recaptured three villages, regained control of 25 miles of the Azerbaijani-Iranian border and took back Goradiz, an important railroad junction, the Defense Ministry said. Retreating Armenians left behind eight tanks, 12 anti-tank guns, six heavy trucks, seven howitzers, and large amounts of ammunition.

Azerbaijan has been fighting an undeclared war for more than six years over Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian region that has declared independence. The bitter conflict has cost more than 16,000 lives and created more than a million refugees.

Last year, Armenian forces advanced from Nagorno-Karabakh into Azerbaijan proper. A long series of humiliating Azeri defeats helped topple the former president and brought Geidar Aliev to power. Aliev promised to reinvigorate the former Soviet republic's war effort, but his forces had little success until recently.

The Defense Ministry said its troops recaptured the villages of Ashagi Yaglivend, Shukyurbeyli and Kerimbeyli in the Fizuli region of southern Azerbaijan.

Over the past month, the Armenian side has lost 500 soldiers and 32 tanks, the ministry said. It did not reveal Azerbaijan's own losses.