Situation in Karabakh becoming more dangerous
Review of developments in the conflict zone from 20:00, April 4 till 13:00, April 5, 2016
Reports from Yerevan
News updates from verified sources
Press secretary of the Armenian defense ministry Artsrun Oganessyan has written on his Facebook page in the morning today to confirm that Azerbaijan had targeted the Armenia border at night, firing towards the Berdavan and Koti villages of the Tavush District on the border’s north-eastern part.
“The Azerbaijani side has used various small arms and 60mm and 82mm mortars to fire at our positions and civilian areas, Oganessyan said.
He added that an intensive gunfire along the contact line around Karabakh had lasted through the night into the morning, and that Azerbaijan had been using the multiple launch rocket system Smerch.
Armenian media reported with reference to the NKR Defense Army, that the Karabakh forces had taken the initiative in their hands in the north-eastern and south-eastern sections of the hostilities area.
As reported, apart from previously used weapons, Azerbaijan started using TOS-1 heavy firethrowers, strike drones and other advanced technologies.
Armenian media have reprinted the Nagorno Karabakh Defence Ministry’s answer to Azerbaijan’s threat to deliver strikes against Stepanakert and adjacent villages. ‘Karabakh’s response to the possible bombing of Karabakh civilians will be disproportionate and painful,’ – the ministry said.
As NKR Defense Army spokesperson, Senor Hasratyan, reported late on April 4, at that moment 20 soldiers were killed and 72 were wounded.
Armenian President, Serzh Sargsyan met with the ambassadors of the OSCE member states on 4 April. As he stated at the meeting: ‘Let me assure you that Azerbaijanis have not liberated any of the territories, for the time being, it’s just a small section in the south and small section in the north along the entire contact line, which, I do hope, will not be (under their control) by the time we finish our conversation.’
Armenian President also stated that the Armenian side had never refused a reasonable compromise, aimed at resolving the conflict, but it makes sense to talk about it only in the context of liberation of Nagorno-Karabakh from a threat of once again becoming a colony, and ‘in the event the full-fledged hostilities continue, Armenia will recognize Nagorno Karabakh.’
Armenian Defense Ministry released a statement condemning the actions of the Azerbaijani armed forces against the military and the peaceful population of the NKR, that are similar to the actions taken by the international terrorist organizations.
‘Both, the Azerbaijani authorities and the individuals, who have taken those actions, shall be made liable for violation of international law and the war crimes. The matter concerns torture of ex-combatants and prisoners of war, including their beheading, filmed on video camera and released in the social network,’ – the ministry said.
Hetk.am published the photos taken by photojournalist, Hakob Poghosyan, in Talish village – a border settlement in the north of Nagorno-Karabakh, after the Armenian forces had managed to regain it. The photos show the bodies of shot civil population of the village with cut off ears.
Review of the social network discussions
Trend One: The enemy is cruel and cunning, but the NKR Defence Army maintains control over the situation.
‘Our forces managed to regain Talish village. And judging by the fact that journalists were let in, the enemy was driven at a sufficiently safe distance from the village.’
‘Azerbaijanis’ presence in the village was marked by war crimes; elderly, who did manage to evacuate from the village, were brutally dealt with. Instead of taking up the defence (it was clear that Armenians would deliver a counter-strike) they started shooting the civilians and then even found time for scoffing at the bodies.’
Trend Two: Russia had no right to sell arms to Azerbaijan.
‘Azerbaijan was the first to use the TOS system in the conflict zone. No one has been killed. But once again – warm greetings to all “birches, who claimed that Russia was controlling something there and that the weapons would not be used against us.’
Trend three: ‘We are calm, like our mountains.’
‘Society shows surprising calmness and tranquility – neither panic, nor euphoria, which is no less important. Perhaps many years of growing tension has psychologically prepared our citizens for war.’
Social networks are witnessing increasing anti-Azerbaijani rhetoric.
Alexander Iskandaryan, Director of the Caucasus Institute:
‘At this stage, by starting shelling the Armenian-Azerbaijani border Azerbaijan is playing an all-or-nothing game. It does not unfold a large-scale offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh. However, in combination, the attempts of the armed forces to break through the NKR Defense Army fortification without unfolding long-range military actions and shelling Armenian positions on the Armenian-Azeri border today prove that Azerbaijan is making decisions at the emotional level, playing on the brink of a fall.
This is extremely dangerous, and, to a certain extent, it is blackmailing of the international community, and practically, during the OSCE Minsk Group meeting. Shelling of northern Armenia has no particular significance from the military point of view. However, symbolically, it’s very important, because it is the territory of another state – not Nagorno-Karabakh, but Armenia.
There will be the reaction on part of the international community, statements will be made, but the fate of escalation or de-escalation is decided on the front line. The international community will not directly interfere in the conflict.’
Reports from Baku
News updates from verified sources
JAMnews correspondent in Agdam district reports that the intensity of shelling on the contact line of troops in Karabakh considerably increased late on April 4.
ANS PRESS news service [linked to the governmental agencies] reported this morning that a substation had been blown up as a result of shelling in Aghdam district, leaving 11 villages without power supply. ANS referred to the Chairman of the Emergency Situations Commission of Azerbaijan, Farhad Heydarov.
Late on April 4, the Azerbaijani Defence Minister order the armed forces to “be ready to use all heavy warfare means at the Armed Forces’ disposal, including missile and artillery troops, with the aim to deliver a knockout blow on Khankendi town and other settlements in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
As it is pointed out in the report, “Armenian side has urged Azerbaijan to take the adequate measures.
A few hours earlier, the ANS PRESS (linked to the governmental structures) had reported with reference to the Azerbaijani MoD that despite Azerbaijan’s unilateral ceasefire, the Armenian side had continued shelling the populated areas along the front line, in Agdere-Terter and Khojavend-Fizuli directions.
According to the ANS PRESS, three more Azerbaijani servicemen were killed. However, the official number of casualties – 16 servicemen.
APA News Agency (also linked to the governmental structures) reported on the death of another civilian. Garash Dadashov, DoB 1954, was killed in Sharifli village, Agdam district.
There were also reports that three residential buildings were destroyed as a result of shelling in Uchoglan village, Agdam district. Pakiza Maharramli, 16, was reportedly wounded in her head, whereas Akif Mustafayev, the emergency situations ministry officer, was wounded in Garadagly village.
Vagif Dargahli, the Head of the Defence Ministry press service, made a special statement in connection with the video and photo materials, released by the Armenian media, showing the atrocities allegedly committed by the Azerbaijani military in Talish village.
Dargahli termed those reports as provocation and an attempt to improve a shaky image of the Armenian army. In his words, Azerbaijani army was not fighting with the peaceful population and had nothing to do with those videos and photos.
Ali Akhmedov, Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan, condemned the position of the Russian media, which, according to Azerbaijanis’ wide-spread belief, continue covering the Karabakh developments from the pro-Armenian stance.
«To put it mildly, the position of the Russian Mass Media, especially those, close to the Russian government, is incomprehensible for us. Being the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair, Russia should have a neutral position with regard to the conflicting parties, said Ali Akhmedov.
One of the examples. LifeNews TV channel reported false information, passing a taxi stop for a refugee camp and the relatives, travelling to the village to attend a funeral – for refugees leaving the village. At the same time, the TV channel replaced the first respondent’s remark by its own text.
Review of social network discussions
Trend One: Victory at any expense.
The degree of patriotism is continuously growing. Facebook avatars have been colored in Azerbaijani flag colors on a massive scale. The majority of users believe, the Azerbaijani Army is winning the battle.
«I support Sargsyan’s proposal on withdrawal of troops to their positions prior to April 1 – but of 1988.
‘My colleague’s relatives are in the vicinity of the hostilities, in Huseynli village. The combat fervor is high!’
‘No more “next time this year we will be in Shusha and Khenkendi! Right here, right now! Everyone to front!
Trend Two: Is the land worth of our soldiers’ lives?
“During these days of hardship I have realized that when it comes to other people’s families and children, it is easy to say: ‘This is a war, isn’t it?! Of course, there will be losses.’ Reply to this comment: ‘And how should it be? There is no victory without losses. Everyone feels sorrow for the victims. I mostly think of mothers. It is not hard to understand, what they are experiencing now. But is there any other way out? Shall we give up on our land?
Trend Three: People need actual information.
«When reading those misleading media reports one has an impression that Azerbaijani troops have almost reached Yerevan, whereas the Armenian ones are stepping up the Virgin Tower in Baku».
«As a person, who is living outside the country, I really want to do at least something. At least to share some information. But how is one supposed to do it, when one cannot rely either on the government, or those blockheaded Mass Media?
«A relative of my acquaintance has been killed. The family cannot get the body; first they were told that the helicopter had fallen down on the Armenian side and they could not approach the area, then they were told it fell on our side. You understand what I mean? There have been reports on casualties among the civilians and the number of people killed exceeds by far the official data.
Trend Four: Propaganda and counter-propaganda.
‘From idiocy series: in Russian and Armenian media: Azerbaijani soldiers are killing elderly people, cutting their ears, beheading them and playing football with their heads, ISIS in the face of Azerbaijanis in Karabakh … I’ve just recalled a story of how Ukrainian soldiers ate Russian children for breakfast.’
Azerbaijani social network users have shared Armenian reporter Rusanna Gevondyan’s video footage that shows children seeing volunteers off and dancing with guns in their hands.
Azerbaijani Facebook is full of wrath.
“So, if the same happened on the Azerbaijani side international/and Russian Media would be presenting it in a manner like ‘Muslims train children soldiers’. International children organizations would be getting hysterical about weapons in children’s hands. So, where are those organizations? Why media and those organizations go blind?
“The matter is that international media loves to underline ‘Christian Armenia’, ‘Muslim Azerbaijan’, when NK conflict has nothing to do with religion: should we in this case make stupid statements like crusaders train children soldiers?“
Social networks are witnessing increasing anti-Armenian rhetoric.
Avaz Hasanov, Director of the Center for Humanitarian Studies:
‘I would not say that Azerbaijan is preparing for a full-fledged war. For Azerbaijan it is important to check the response of the member countries of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), in order to understand whether Nagorno-Karabakh is within the area of responsibility of someone else, besides Armenia and Russia.
Now, as the open clashes started for the first time over the past 20 years, it is very important for Azerbaijan to prove the combat capacity of its army and its ability to perform complex tasks. TV and radio broadcasts are aimed at raising the spirit of patriotism among Azerbaijanis.’
• JAMnews review of what has happened in the conflict zone since April 3
• Information provided by the official sources of the conflicting parties is controversial and does not allow to answer the question: who started the military actions, and who responded. International sources also cannot answer this question yet.
• The armed conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh took place in 1991-1994. Since entering into truce, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic has existed as de facto independent republic, not recognized by any country of the world, including Armenia. Azerbaijan considers Karabakh and the adjacent areas, taken in during the war, as the occupied territories and demands their return.
• The parties to the conflict regularly report on clashes on the contact line and accuse each other of provocations.
The opinions expressed in the article, convey the author’s views and terminology and do not necessarily reflect the position of the editorial staff.