Military experts from Armenia and Azerbaijan question official casualty figures
The Karabakh conflict sides, as in any war, downplay the number of their own casualties and exaggerate the number of enemy victims and injuries. Moreover, the war has entered an active phase, so it is incorrect to give an accurate assessment of the combat losses of the sides. The opinion of Armenian and Azerbaijani experts is quoted by the publication Caucasian Knot.
“The sides of the conflict deliberately distort data on their own losses, trying to keep up the spirit of their army and the patriotic enthusiasm of the people. At the same time, they overestimate the enemy’s losses, trying to sow uncertainty in the opposing army and undermine the people’s faith in it,” said a military analyst, a former employee of the Information and Analytical Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan Azad Isazade.
According to him, for the first time Azerbaijan does not provide data on combat losses, whereas during the military operations of 1992-1994 and in April 2016, the Azerbaijani army reported this information.
“This time, apparently, they decided not to report until the end of hostilities. There have been such cases in international practice. There are reports of funerals both in Baku and the regions for those killed. There are wounded, and President Ilham Aliyev himself recently visited them in the hospital,” Isazade told the Caucasian Knot.
Isazade says it is hard to even estimate the approximate losses, but noted that each side has exact information about its own losses.
However, as for the enemy’s losses, their estimates are approximate, especially in modern wars, when battles are often fought remotely.
In his opinion, independent observers can also roughly estimate the losses of the parties on the basis of their own data and some other indirect indicators, for example, the number of destroyed combat crews or crews of armored vehicles.
Telman Abilov, the head of the nongovernmental organization Military Lawyers, also believes that the sides overestimate the enemy’s losses and underestimate their own. In particular, he notes, the Armenian side overstates the losses of Azerbaijan.
“They talk about almost 1,300 killed from the Azerbaijani side, but they do not provide reliable evidence. On the contrary, the website and Telegram channel of the Ministry of Defense of daily demonstrate videos of the defeat of command posts, automobile columns, armored vehicles, warehouses with weapons and other objects. The destruction of the personnel is also captured on camera,”Abilov said.
“The war has entered an active phase, and it is wrong to give an accurate assessment of the combat losses of the sides,” said Robert Nazaryan, a military expert of the Armenian military news agency Razm.info.
The presence of foreign journalists and observers in the conflict zone would partially make it possible to get a true assessment of what is happening, he believes.
In his opinion, the data of the Ministry of Defense of Nagorno-Karabakh on the losses of the Azerbaijani army are realistic, but there may be slight inaccuracies.
“On the sixth day of fierce battles, given that it was Azerbaijan that launched the offensive, it is natural that its combat losses will be several times greater than those of the Artsakh Defense Army,” the military expert said.
He called Azerbaijan’s information about the destruction of an entire unit of the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army as fictitious.