2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
Part of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
QarabaghWarMap(2020).svg
As of 13 October 2020:
  Former NKAO controlled by Artsakh
  Claimed by Artsakh but controlled by Azerbaijan
  Rest of Azerbaijan
  Claimed to be captured by Azerbaijan and confirmed by third-party sources
  Claimed to be captured by Azerbaijan but not yet confirmed by third-party sources

(For a more detailed map, see military situation in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict)
Date27 September 2020 (2020-09-27) – present
(2 weeks and 3 days)
Location
Status Ongoing; temporary humanitarian ceasefire[23]
Territorial
changes
Belligerents
Commanders and leaders
Units involved
Strength
  • Unknown regular military
  • 1,450 Syrian fighters[a][43]
Unknown
Casualties and losses

Per Azerbaijan:


Per Armenia:[49][50]

  • 5,319 servicemen and mercenaries killed

Per other sources:

Per Armenia:


Per Azerbaijan:

  • 2,300+ servicemen killed or wounded[55]
  • 43 Azerbaijani and 35 Armenian civilians killed[59][60]
  • 214 Azerbaijani and 100 Armenian civilians injured[59][61]
  • 2 French[62] and 3 Russian journalists injured[63]
  • 1 Iranian civilian injured from stray fire[64]
  • 70–75,000 people displaced from Artsakh (per Artsakh)[65]

The 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict[d] is an ongoing armed conflict between the armed forces of Azerbaijan and the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh, together with Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and is the latest escalation of the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The clashes began on the morning of 27 September 2020 along the Nagorno-Karabakh Line of Contact. In response to the clashes, Armenia and Artsakh introduced martial law and total mobilization,[70][71] while Azerbaijan introduced martial law and a curfew.[72] On 28 September, partial mobilization was declared in Azerbaijan.[73]

Numerous countries and the United Nations strongly condemned the conflict and called on both sides to deescalate tensions and resume meaningful negotiations without delay.[74] Turkey is providing military support to Azerbaijan, although the extent of its support is disputed.[75][76]

International analysts believe that fighting probably began with an Azerbaijani offensive,[75][77] and that primary goals of the offensive were likely to capture districts in southern Nagorno-Karabakh that are less mountainous and thus easier to take than the well-fortified interior of the region.[78][79] Turkey's support for Azerbaijan was thought to be an attempt to extend its sphere of influence both by increasing the standing of Azerbaijan in the conflict and by marginalizing Russia's influence over the region.[75][80]

A fragile humanitarian ceasefire brokered by Russia, facilitated by the International Committee of the Red Cross, and agreed to by both Armenia and Azerbaijan, formally came into effect on 10 October.[81][82][83] The ceasefire has been repeatedly violated, halting a planned return of the dead and exchange of wounded and prisoners.[84] Total casualties on both sides may be approaching the low thousands.[85]

Background

The clashes are part of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh with an ethnic Armenian majority.[86][87][88][89] The region is a de jure part of Azerbaijan, but is de facto held by the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh, which is supported by Armenia.[90] Ethnic violence began in the late 1980s, and exploded into a full war following the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. The Nagorno-Karabakh War ended with a ceasefire in 1994, with the Republic of Artsakh controlling the Nagorno-Karabakh region, as well as the surrounding districts of Agdam, Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Kalbajar, Qubadli, Lachin and Zangilan of Azerbaijan.[91]

For three decades, multiple violations of the ceasefire have occurred, the most serious incidents prior to the current conflict being the 2016 Nagorno-Karabakh clashes.[92] Long-standing international mediation attempts to create a peace process were initiated by the OSCE Minsk Group in 1994, with the interrupted Madrid Principles being the most recent iteration.[93][94][95]

Skirmishes occurred on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan in July 2020.[92] Thousands of Azerbaijanis demonstrated for war against Armenia in response, with Turkey propagandising in support of Azerbaijan.[96]

On 23 July 2020, Armenia announced the start of a joint air defence system exercise with Russia and an analysis of the July 2020 clashes.[97] A week later, Azerbaijan conducted a series of military exercises that lasted from 29 July to 10 August,[98] and further exercises in early September with the involvement of Turkey.[99] Turkey's support for Azerbaijan has been seen as connected to its expansionist, neo-Ottoman foreign policy,[100] linking its intervention to its policies in Syria, Iraq, and the Eastern Mediterranean.[101]

Prior to the resumption of hostilities, allegations emerged that hundreds of Syrian National Army members from the Hamza Division were transferred to Azerbaijan,[102] while Turkish media close to President Erdogan claimed that YPG and PKK members from Iraq and Syria were transferred to Nagorno-Karabakh in order to train Armenian militias against Azerbaijan.[103] The governments of both Azerbaijan and Armenia have denied allegations of involvement by foreign fighters.[104][105]

Timeline of military engagements

This timeline of engagements relies primarily on official statements from belligerents. The engagements have been characterised by the use of trench warfare, heavy artillery, armoured warfare, rocket attacks, and drone warfare,[106][107][108] especially the use of Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 and Israeli kamikaze Harop drones,[85] as well as by emerging accounts of the use of cluster munitions (which are banned by most of the international community but not by Armenia or Azerbaijan),[109] and ballistic missile attacks on civilian populations. The amount of territory contested is relatively restricted, but the conflict has expanded beyond the borders of Nagorno-Karabakh due to the kind of munitions deployed and spilled over international borders. Shells and rockets have landed in East Azerbaijan Province in Iran, though causing no damage,[110][111][112] and Iran has downed several unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs),[113][114][115] while Georgia stated that two UAVs crashed in Kakheti Province.[116]

27 September

Stepanakert, the capital city of the Republic of Artsakh, has been heavily damaged by Azerbaijani shelling during the conflict.

According to the Office of the President of the Republic of Artsakh, hostilities commenced when at 08:03 Azerbaijani armed forces launched artillery and aerial strikes against civilian settlements, including the capital, Stepanakert. Authorities urged the population to seek cover in bomb shelters.[117] An air-raid siren was turned on in Stepanakert.[118] Azerbaijani authorities stated that at about 06:00 local time, Armenian armed forces started intensive shelling of Azerbaijani army positions along the entire front line and of nearby Azerbaijani settlements.[119] Azerbaijan stated that the Armenian side had attacked and that Azerbaijan had launched a counteroffensive in response.[120] Hikmet Hajiyev, senior adviser to Azerbaijan's president, Ilham Aliyev, accused Armenian forces of launching attacks along the front line.[121]

The Armenian Ministry of Defence (MoD) stated that an Azerbaijani offensive, aimed at Stepanakert, began at 08:10 local time (04:10 GMT).[122] In the offensive Azerbaijan stated it deployed manpower, tank and rocket artillery units, aircraft and UAVs.[123] The Republic of Artsakh then introduced martial law and total mobilization of its male population.[71] Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev addressed the nation concerning the clashes.[124]

In the afternoon martial law and a curfew was introduced in Azerbaijan, with martial law effective from midnight, 28 September, while the curfew became effective in Baku, major cities and some regions from 21:00 to 06:00 local time. In the clashes the Azerbaijani military deployed tanks, artillery, missile systems and aircraft near the front and entered deeper into Nagorno-Karabakh.[125] According to the Armenian MoD, in the morning Azerbaijani armed forces also attacked in the direction of Vardenis in Armenia proper.[126]

By the afternoon, the Azerbaijani MoD stated it had taken seven villages in Nagorno-Karabakh: Garakhanbayli, Garvand, Horadiz, Yuxarı Əbdürrəhmanlı, Aşağı Əbdürrəhmanlı, Boyuk Marjanli and Nuzgar.[127][128] At 16:29, the Azerbaijani MoD announced that the Azerbaijani Military Command proposed that the Armenian command in this zone surrender in order to avoid an attack on its garrison in Aghdara and reduce casualties, while affirming its compliance with international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions.[129] In the afternoon, the Azerbaijani MoD stated it had taken a mountain peak in the Murovdag range.[130] The Ministry also stated that Azerbaijani forces had taken effective control of the Vardenis–Martakert/Aghdara highway connecting Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia;[131] these claims were questioned.[132] [107]

28 September

Murovdag peak (above) and VardenisMartakert/Aghdara M11 highway (below), which came under Azerbaijani control according to the country's defence ministry

At approximately 01:00, the Azerbaijani MoD released footage depicting three Armenian military vehicles being targeted on the line of contact by Azerbaijani strikes and accused Armenia of falsely propagandising in the face of claimed Azerbaijani successes.[133] At approximately 08:00, the Ministry stated that Armenian forces had fired upon Tartar in the early morning and issued a warning in response,[134] while the Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) stated that Armenian forces had purposefully targeted civilian sites and civilians.[135] The President of Artsakh stated that during the morning's clashes, Armenian forces had regained control over a number of previously ceded positions.[136] At approximately 10:00, the Azerbaijani MoD released footage of an engagement and claimed that Azerbaijani forces had gained strategic high ground around Talış while Armenian forces had incurred heavy losses.[137]

At approximately 14:00, Armenian media stated that an Azerbaijani UAV had been shot down near Vardenis.[138] The President of the Republic of Artsakh stated that Azerbaijani forces were facing attacks on all fronts from Armenian forces.[139] Shortly after, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that Azerbaijani forces had fired on Armenian artillery units that had been targeting Azerbaijani-controlled settlements in the area of Aghdara; it added that Armenian units incurred losses from artillery fire and were forced to withdraw.[140]

At approximately 19:00, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that Armenian forces had fired upon Yuxarı Ağcakənd and Qaramusalı in Goranboy District.[141] At approximately 20:00, the Deputy Commander of the Artsakh Defence Army, Arthur Sargsyan, stated that Armenian forces had retaken some positions.[142] The chairman of the National Assembly of the Republic of Artsakh, Arthur Tovmasyan, stated that Armenian forces had repelled Azerbaijanin attacks and had advanced into Azerbaijani territory.[143]

Subsequently, at approximately 21:00, An Armenian Ministry of Defense-related source, Artsrun Hovhannisyan, stated that Azerbaijani forces had launched a new major offensive operation in the Aras Valley and in the direction of Madagiz–Talış.[144] Approximately one hour later, Poghosyan claimed that an Azerbaijani airplane had been shot down near Khojavend;[145] this was denied by Azerbaijan.[146] Additionally, the Azerbaijani MoD denied allegations that Azerbaijan had deployed F-16s, stating the Azerbaijani Air Force does not possess F-16s.[147] Throughout the day, the Azerbaijani MoD released footage apparently showing the destruction of Armenian materiel, vehicles, and units, including by UAVs.[148][149][150][151]

29 September

At approximately 08:00, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that intensified clashes had continued along the entire length of the front during the night; it added that while Armenian forces repeatedly attempted to counterattack, Azerbaijani units had repelled them. Concurrently, Azerbaijani aerial and ground forces allegedly destroyed a mixed column of Armenian military vehicles travelling from Madagiz in the direction of Aghdara, together with an artillery battery providing fire support.[152] At approximately 09:00, the Ministry stated that starting from 07:30, the Dashkasan District of Azerbaijan had been shelled from Vardenis, in Armenia;[153] this was denied by the Armenian MoFA, which claimed that it was a fabrication meant to justify expanding the theater of operations, including aggression against Armenia.[154] In response, the office of Azerbaijan's president stated that it was part of an "ongoing act of Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan".[155] The Azerbaijani MoD then stated that an Azerbaijani offensive on Fuzuli City continued from the early morning, destroyed four Armenian tanks in the Fizuli-Jabrayil area;[156] subsequently, the Azerbaijani MoD denied Armenian statements that territories had been retaken.[157] The Armenian MoD stated that Artsakh Defence Army (ADA)units had destroyed Azerbaijani materiel.[158]

On 29 September, the clashes spilled over to Vardenis (above) and Daşkəsən (below), on the Armenian–Azerbaijani state border.

Later, a second Azerbaijani UAV was reported downed.[159] At approximately 11:00, the Armenian MoD stated that Azerbaijani forces had fired on the Armenian military base in Vardenis, across the Armenian state border, also deploying its air force.[160] At the same time, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that an Armenian motorized rifle regiment, stationed in Khojavend District, had been destroyed;[161] the ADA denied this.[162] Azerbaijan stated it had destroyed an Armenian Uragan multiple rocket launcher in Khojavend District.[163] Subsequently, an Armenian source claimed that Azerbaijani forces had attempted further attacks but had been repelled.[164] The Azerbaijani MoD accused Armenia of fabricating footage to improve domestic morale.[165]

At about 12:00, one Azerbaijani gunship was claimed to have been downed;[166] the Azerbaijani MoD denied this, claiming that it had not been deploying helicopters.[167] At approximately 12:40, it was claimed that ADA units had downed two helicopters using Igla man-portable surface-to-air missiles; Artsakh released footage apparently showing this.[168] An Armenian source then stated that Azerbaijani forces were bombarding areas near Vardenis.[169] The Azerbaijani MoD stated it had destroyed an Armenian command-and-observation post in Hadrut in Khojavend District,[170] while the Armenian MoD announced it would be deploying heavier weapons and was repelling Azerbaijani offensives.[171] The Azerbaijani MoD stated that an Armenian attempt to assault Azerbaijani-controlled military positions from Aşağı Veysəlli in Fuzuli District had been repelled, with Armenian losses.[172] At approximately 13:20, the Armenian MoD stated that the Azerbaijani military had launched an offensive.[173] approximately two hours later, the Azerbaijani MoD claimed that S-300 missile systems defending Yerevan's airspace were being redeployed towards Nagorno-Karabakh and would be destroyed.[174] Shortly after, the ADa released footage apparently showing Armenian forces downing an Azerbaijani gunship;[175] an Armenian MoD-related source claimed multiple Azerbaijani tanks destroyed.[176]

At approximately 18:00, the Artsakh MoD stated that Azerbaijani forces had attacked along the northern and north-eastern directions of the front, while the ADA had inflicted losses.[177] Shortly after, the Armenian MoD stated that a Turkish F-16, taking off from Ganja International Airport had downed an Armenian Su-25, killing the pilot.[54] This was denied by both Azerbaijani[178] and Turkish[179] authorities; the Armenian MoD released images of a wrecked Su-25.[180] According to Azerbaijan, two Su-25 jets took off on the territory of Armenia and later crashed into a mountain and exploded.[181] At approximately 19:30, the Armenian MoD released footage apparently showing the destruction of an Azerbaijani unit.[182] At approximately 22:00, the Armenian MoD stated an Azerbaijani ammunition convoy had been destroyed.[183] Approximately one hour later, the Azerbaijani MoD stated its forces had destroyed positions occupied by one Armenian motorized infantry regiment near Həsənqaya in Tartar District and another in the direction of Talış.[184] Throughout the day, the Azerbaijani MoD released footage apparently showing Armenian tanks being destroyed[185] and Azerbaijani artillery units firing on Armenian forces.[186]

30 September

According to the Armenian MoD, the clashes continued with lesser intensity overnight.[187] At approximately 08:30, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that Armenian forces had been shelling Tartar City for half an hour.[188] At approximately 10:20, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that Azerbaijani units had surrounded Armenian forces with the aid of artillery fire, and that clashes continued in the Aghdara/Martakert–Tartar area of the front.[189] At approximately 10:20, the Ministry stated that Armenian forces had started firing upon Aşağı Ağcakənd, in Goranboy District.[190] At approximately 11:10, the Armenian MoD stated that the Azerbaijani Air Force was attacking Armenian positions in the northern direction of the front.[191] At approximately 12:25, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that the Armenian 7th Mountain Rifle Regiment of the 10th Mountain Rifle Division, stationed in Tonaşen, had incurred heavy losses and retreated;[192] it released footage apparently showing the attack[193] and stated that Azerbaijani forces had fired upon the command post of the Armenian 41st Special Regiment of the 18th Motorized Division, inflicting casualties.[194] The Armenian MoD stated that Armenian forces had destroyed a substantial quantity of Azerbaijani materiel, including a TOS-1A.[195] The Ministry also stated that Azerbaijani forces had shelled the 4th Armenian Battalion, stationed in Fuzuli District,[196] and that its forces had attacked the headquarters of an Armenian regiment of the 10th Mountain Rifle Division, stationed in Aghdara.[197] The Armenian MoD stated that Armenian forces had destroyed Azerbaijani outposts and materiel.[198] Throughout the day, the Azerbaijani MoD released footage apparently showing the shelling and destruction of Armenian positions and materiel, including tanks, artillery, and missile launchers in Jabrayil District,[199][200][201][202][203][204][205][206] while the Armenian MoD released footage apparently showing Armenian forces advancing towards Azerbaijani positions.[207]

1 October

According to the Azerbaijani MoD, clashes continued overnight, with Azerbaijani units shelling Armenian positions,[208] while the ADA stated that the overnight situation had been relatively stable.[209] At approximately 01:10, the Azerbaijani MoD released footage claiming to show the destruction of Armenian materiel.[210] At approximately 10:00, it stated that Armenian forces had been shelling Tartar City during the morning.[211] The Armenian MoD stated that Armenian forces shot down an Azerbaijani UAV near Askeran,[212] while the Artsakh MoD stated that Artsakh forces had repelled Azerbaijani advances.[213] About half an hour later, it stated that Artsakh forces had downed an Azerbaijani gunship near Lalatapa, with wreckage falling into Iranian territory;[214] this was denied by Azerbaijan.[215] At approximately 13:00, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that \Jabrayil and Fuzuli Districts werebeing rocketed from Goris, in Armenia.[216] Approximately half an hour later, it stated that Armenian forces were shelling Çocuq Mərcanlı, Horadiz, and front-line villages in Goranboy, Tartar and Aghdam Districts.[217] At approximately 14:40, the Artsakh MoD stated that Armenian forces had downed two Azerbaijani warplanes and one helicopter;[218] this was denied by Azerbaijan, which stated it had not deployed aircraft that day.[219] The Azerbaijani MoD claimed the destruction of Armenian artillery,[220] several Armenian air defense assets and multiple launch rocket systems.[221] At approximately 19:00, the Ministry stated that Armenian forces had fired upon Horadiz from 17:50.[222] At approximately 23:00, the Armenian MoD stated that Azerbaijani forces were shelling Shatvan and Mets Masrik, both in Armenia proper.[223] Approximately half an hour later, Armenia stated it had downed an Azerbaijani UAV in Kotayk Province, in Armenia.[224]

2 October

A residential building in Ganja after reportedly being hit by an Armenian rocket

According to the Azerbaijani MoD, overnight clashes continued in various areas of the front, and Azerbaijani forces captured and took control of dominant heights around Madagiz in the direction of Aghdara,[225] while the Artsakh MoD stated that the situation had been relatively stable, if tense.[226] At approximately 09:30, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that Xındırıstan, Alıbəyli, Əhmədağalı and Səfərli in Agdam District were under intense Armenian artillery fire.[227] At approximately 12:40, it stated that Quzanlı in Agdam was under rocket fire from Nagorno-Karabakh, while around ten missiles were fired from Armenia into Sabirkənd in Shamkir from the Tochka-U;[228][229] this was denied by Armenia.[230] The Azerbaijani MoD then stated that Armenians had been rocketing Əmirli in Barda, together with Ağdam and Quzanlı in Tovuz District.[231] At approximately 14:00, the Armenian MoD stated that Azerbaijani forces were bombarding Stepanakert.[232] At approximately 16:40, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that Tartar City and Şıxarx, and Soğanverdilər in Barda District were under Armenian artillery fire.[233] Approximately an hour later, the Ministry stated that Azerbaijani forces had destroyed an Armenian field control post. Throughout the day, the Azerbaijani MoD released the footage of an Armenian field control post and of materiel being apparently destroyed, as well as attacks on personnel.[234][235][236]

3 October

According to the Azerbaijani MoD, the situation along the front remained tense,[237] while the Armenian MoD stated that heavy fighting was underway in the northern and southern directions of the front.[238] At approximately 10:40, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that Tartar City, Səhləbad, Qəzyan, Qapanlı, Qaynaq, Əskipara and Hüseynli, all in Tartar, together with Ayaq Qərvənd, İmamqulubəyli, Qaradağlı, and Təzəkənd in Agdam, as well as Muğanlı, Qiyaməddinli, and Rəncbərlər in Aghjabadi, together with Tap Qaraqoyunlu in Goranboy, had been subjected to intensive Armenian artillery fire overnight.[239] At approximately 12:10, the Armenian Foreign Ministry stated that the Azerbaijani military was using long-range weapons to destroy civilian infrastructure.[240] At approximately 19:40, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev announced that the Azerbaijani forces had taken control of Suqovuşan.[29] He also announced that Azerbaijani forces had taken control of Talış in Tartar, Mehdili, Çaxırlı, Aşağı Maralyan, Şəybəy and Quycaq in Jabrayil and Aşağı Əbdürrəhmanlı in Fuzuli.[241]

4 October

According to the Armenian MoD, the overnight situation along the front was relatively stable, but tense.[242] At approximately 09:00, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that Armenian forces were rocketing Tartar City and Horadiz.[243] At approximately 10:30, the Ministry stated that Armenian forces were shelling Fuzuli District, while rocketing Agdam and Tartar Districts,[244] while the Artsakh MoD stated that Azerbaijani forces were shelling Stepanakert.[245] Approximately half an hour later, Ganja came under bombardment.[246][247] The Armenian MoD denied that this came from its territory,[248] while Artsakh took responsibility, stating that Armenian forces had targeted and destroyed the Ganja military airbase on Ganja International Airport;[249] this was denied by Azerbaijan.[250] Subsequently, both a correspondent reporting from the scene for a Russian media outlet and the airport director denied that the airport, which was not operational since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, had been shelled.[251][252]

At approximately 14:00, Azerbaijan claimed that Azerbaijani forces had severely wounded the President of Artsakh, Arayik Harutyunyan, who had visited the front in the morning;[253][254] this was denied by Artsakh.[255] At approximately 16:00, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that the Armenian forces were shelling Sarıcalı in Aghjabadi, Baharlı, Çıraqlı, and Üçoğlan in Agdam District and Şahvəlilər in Barda Districts.[256] Approximately 40 minutes later, Azerbaijani President Aliyev announced that Azerbaijani forces had taken control of the city of Jabrayil,[26] as well as Karxulu, Şükürbəyli, Yuxarı Maralyan, Çərəkən, Daşgəsən, Horovlu, Mahmudlu, Cəfərabad and Decal, in Jabrayil District.[257] At approximately 17:80, the Armenian MoD released footage apparently showing Azerbaijani soldiers leaving Mataghis.[258] At approximately 22:40, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that Armenian forces had rocketed Tartar City and Mingachevir,[259] the latter housing a water reservoir,[260] which Armenia regards as a military target;[261][262][263] this was denied by both Armenia and Artsakh.[264] Approximately an hour later, the Office of the Azerbaijani President stated that Armenian forces had fired two medium-range missiles at Khizi and Absheron Districts.[265] During the day, the Azerbaijani MoD released footage apparently showing the destruction of Armenian fire support, armored and logistic units.[266]

5 October

A destroyed bus stop in Jabrayil, 2014. The Azerbaijani President announced that Azerbaijan had taken control of the city on 4 October.

According to the Armenian MoD, the clashes continued with varying intensity overnight,[267] and Azerbaijani forces launched an offensive from the south.[268] At approximately 10:00, the Azerbaijani MoD released radar-recorded footage apparently showing rockets being fired from Jermuk, Kapan, and Berd, in Armenia.[269] The Armenian MoD stated that Azerbaijani forces were firing rockets at Stepanakert.[270] Approximately one hour later, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that Armenian forces were shelling the cities of Beylagan, Barda and Tartar City.[271]

At approximately midday, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that Armenian forces were shelling the cities of Horadiz and Tartar, as well as villages in Tartar, Aghjabadi, Goranboy and Goygol Districts.[272] The Office of the Azerbaijani President stated that Armenian forces were attacking Ganja, Barda, Beylagan and some other Azerbaijani cities with missiles and rockets,[273] while the Azerbaijani MoD stated that Ganja had come under fire from Berd, Armenia.[274] At approximately 16:50, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that Armenian forces were shelling the cities of Aghjabadi[275] and Beylagan.[276] At approximately 18:00, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that 3rd Battalion of the 1st Armenian Motorized Rifle Regiment, stationed in Hadrut, had fled.[277] At approximately 20:20, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that Armenian forces had again shelled Ganja.[278] Azerbaijan's president stated that Azerbaijani forces had taken control of the villages of Şıxalıağalı, Sarıcalı and Məzrə in Jabrayil.[279] Armenian forces subsequently announced a partial "tactical retreat".[33]

6 October

The clashes continued overnight. The Azerbaijani MoD stated its forces were in control of the entire front,[280] while Artsakh stated that the situation was stable, if tense.[281] The Azerbaijani MoD claimed that Azerbaijani forces had destroyed an Armenian ammunition depot in Ballıca[282] and released footage apparently showing the destruction of Armenian materiel.[283] According to Azerbaijani sources, a school building and a fire engine were hit in Agdam District by Armenian rockets.[284] At approximately 16:30, the Armenian MoD stated that Azerbaijani forces had started a new offensive on the southern front.[285]

Approximately half an hour later, the same Ministry stated that Azerbaijani forces were shelling Stepanakert.[286] At approximately 19:00, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that Armenian forces were shelling Yevlakh, Goranboy and Beylagan Districts.[287] At approximately 22:30, the Prosecutor General's Office of Azerbaijan alleged that Armenia had fired missiles at the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which the Azerbaijani army had prevented.[288] Shortly after, the Armenian MoD stated that it had repeatedly denied targeting petroleum and gas infrastructure.[289] It then stated that Armenian forces had shelled Tartar City.[290]

7 October

Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shusha. The Armenian Apostolic cathedral was damaged during the conflict.[291][292][293]

According to the Azerbaijani MoD, the clashes continued along the entire front overnight.[294] At approximately 10:00, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that the Azerbaijani forces were in control of Jabrayil District.[27] It also released footage apparently showing Azerbaijani forces in Şükürbəyli.[295] Approximately half an hour later, the Ministry stated that Armenian forces were shelling villages in Tartar, Barda, Aghdam, Aghjabadi, Fuzuli and Jabrayil Districts.[296] At approximately midday, it stated that Azerbaijani forces had seized control of new Armenian bases,[297] while the Armenian MoD stated that Azerbaijani forces were shelling Stepanakert.[298] At approximately 15:00, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that Armenian forces were firing upon villages in Tartar and Fuzuli Districts.[299] At approximately 19:30, the President of Artsakh stated that Armenian forces had retaken some positions.[300]

8 October

Clashes continued overnight; according to the Artsakh MoD, the situation was stable but tense.[301] According to the Azerbaijani MoD, in the morning Armenian forces began shelling villages in Goranboy, Tartar, Aghdam,[302] Barda and Aghjabedi Districts,[303] and the city of Barda.[304] At around midday, the Azerbaijani Presidential Office stated that Armenian forces had rocketed Ganja, Barda, Tartar and other cities with Smerch MLRS.[305] Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shusha apparently came under repeated bombardment and was seriously damaged.[306][307] At approximately 13:00, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that Armenian forces had fired a Tochka-U missile at the city of Barda.[308] At approximately 15:00, the Armenian MoD stated thatit was repelling Azerbaijani offensives.[309] Subsequently, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that Armenian forces had shelled villages in Goranboy, Tartar, and Aghdam Districts.[310] During the day, the Azerbaijani MoD released footage apparently showing the destruction of Armenian materiel and infrastructure.[311][312][313]

9 October

Yukhari Govhar Agha Mosque in Shusha. The status and treatment of mosques is a subject of contention in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.[314]

Clashes continued overnight; according to the Artsakh MoD, the situation was stable but tense.[315] According to the Azerbaijani MoD, starting in the morning, Armenian forces fired upon Goranboy, Tartar, Barda, and Aghdam Districts[316] and shelled Aghjabadi District and the city of Mingachevir.[317] The Ministry also released footage showing villages in Jabrayil District which its forces had apparently seized control of.[318][319] The Armenian MoD stated that Azerbaijani forces were bombarding Stepanakert.[320] At approximately 14:00, the Azerbaijani authorities stated that Armenian forces had fired missiles at a mosque in Beylagan and at Goy Imam Mosque in Ganja.[321] At approximately 16:30, it stated that Azerbaijani forces had shot down a ballistic missile during flight from Armenia to Mingachevir.[322] At approximately 17:00, the Azerbaijani President announced that Azerbaijani forces had taken control of Hadrut,[28] together with the villages of Çaylı, Yuxarı Güzlək, Gorazıllı, Qışlaq, Qaracallı, Əfəndilər, Sor and Süleymanlı.[323] The capture of Hadrut was denied by Artsakh,[324] During the day, the Azerbaijani MoD released footage apparently showing the destruction of Armenian materiel,[325][326][327] the setting of Sugovushan, and the streets of Talış, again claiming an Azerbaijani presence in the contested villages.[328][329]

Humanitarian ceasefire and violations

Just before 04:00 (00:00 GMT) on October 10, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reported that both Armenia and Azerbaijan had agreed on a humanitarian ceasefire after 10 hours of talks in Moscow and announced that both will now enter "substantive" talks.[330][82] Hostilities were formally halted at 12:00 (08:00 GMT), to allow an exchange of prisoners and the recovery of the dead, facilitated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)[82][331] Violations of the ceasefire have been persistent, leading to the ICRC halting attempts to recover the dead and exchange wounded and prisoners, as well as prompting fears of a humanitarian crisis.[84]

On 10 October, Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other of bombarding civilian settlements prior to the midday humanitarian ceasefire, with both sides denying the other's accusations.[332][81] Each side has also accused the other of breaking the ceasefire.[81][333] The Azerbaijani MoD continued to release footage apparently showing the destruction of Armenian materiel.[334][335][336][337][338] Both Artsakh and Azerbaijan accused each other of attacking Hadrut.[339] At approximately 23:00, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that Armenian forces were shelling Tartar,[340] while the Armenian MoD stated that Azerbaijani forces were bombarding Stepanakert;[341] this was denied by Azerbaijan.[342]

The next day, according to Artsakh, the situation was reasonably calm, with minor ceasefire violations.[343] At approximately 02:30, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that Armenian forces had hit Ganja[344] with a Scud missile,[345] fired from Berd, Armenia,[346] killing 10[347] and injuring 33 civilians;[348] this was officially denied[349] but subsequently confirmed.[350][351] Azerbaijan also claimed that Armenian forces had fired missiles at the Mingachevir Hydroelectric Power Station.[352] At approximately 18:00, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that Armenian forces were shelling villages in Aghdam, Tartar, Aghjabadi, and Fuzuli Districts.[353]

Minor clashes continued into 12 October, with the Azerbaijani MoD claiming operational advantage[354] and the Azerbaijani President stated that Armenian forces had tried to retake Hadrut.[355] The Azerbaijani MoD then stated that Armenian forces were shelling Aghdam,[356] Tartar, and Goranboy Districts.[357] At approximately 15:00, the Azerbaijani President stated that Azerbaijani forces had operational control over several villages but had not entered them.[358] The next day, clashes apparently resumed[359] in Aghdara, Aghdam, Fuzuli, and Hadrut Districts,[359][360] with Armenian forces apparently shelling Goranboy, Tartar, and Aghdam Districts.[361] Subsequently, Artsakh accused Azerbaijan of launching a major new attack.[362] In the evening, the Azerbaijani MoD released footage apparently showing parts of Hadrut under Azerbaijani control[363], but according to the BBC, it includes footage from neighboring heights and Tagaser, not from Hadrut's center.[364]

Clashes contunied into 14 October, with situation in Aghdara, Aghdam, Fizuli, Hadrut, and Jabrayil districts remaining tense, according to the Azerbaijani MoD. At approximately 09:00, the Azerbaijani MoD stated that the Armenian forces were shelling Tartar, Aghdam, and Aghjabedi districts.[365]

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev announced that the Azerbaijani forces had taken control of Qaradağlı, Xatınbulaq, and Qarakollu in Fuzuli, Bulutan, Melikcanlı, Kəmərtük, Təkə, Tağaser in Khojavend distritcs.[25]

Non-military actions taken by Armenia and Azerbaijan

Armenia

The slogan "#Հաղթելուենք" ("We're going to win") in the center of Yerevan in support of the Republic of Artsakh, 2 October 2020

On 28 September, Armenia banned all men aged over 18 who were listed in the mobilization reserve from leaving the country.[366] The next day, Armenia postponed the trial of former President Robert Kocharyan and other former officials charged in the 2008 post-election unrest case. The reason provided was that one of the defendants, the former Defence Minister of Armenia, Seyran Ohanyan, had gone to Artsakh during the conflict.[367]

On 1 October, TikTok was inaccessible in Armenia.[368] On the same day, the Armenian National Security Service (NSS) stated that it had arrested and charged a former high-ranking Armenian military official with treason on suspicion of spying for Azerbaijan.[369] Subsequently, on 4 October, the NSS stated that it had arrested several foreign citizens on suspicion of spying.[370] Also, protesting against Israeli arms sales to Azerbaijan, Armenia has recalled Armen Smbatyan, its ambassador to Israel.[371] Israel's foreign ministry said it regretted Armenia's decision to withdraw its ambassador.

On 8 October, the Armenian President, Armen Sarkissian, dismissed the director of the NSS.[372] Subsequently, the Armenian government toughened the martial law, and prohibited criticizing state bodies and "propaganda aimed at disruption of the defense capacity of the country."[373] On the same day, the Armenian MoD canceled the Novaya Gazeta correspondent Ilya Azar's journalistic accreditation, officially for entering Nagorno-Karabakh without accreditation; Azar stated this response was due to his reporting in Shusha and Lachin.[374]

On 9 October, new revisions were acquainted with the Administrative Offense Code and Criminal Code of Armenia. As indicated by the changes on the Criminal Code, circling data that can "harm Armenia's security during the martial law" become an act of crime, while the administrative responsibility was envisaged for constraints on free movement, economic activities and goods turnaround, refusal to engage in prompt works, and refusal to provide vehicles.[373]

Azerbaijan

Azerbaijanis marching in Baku with the Azerbaijani flag in their hands, in support of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, 1 October 2020

On 27 September, Azerbaijani authorities restricted internet access shortly after the clashes began. According to an official statement, this was done to prevent Armenian provocations.[375] The National Assembly of Azerbaijan declared a curfew in Baku, Ganja, Goygol, Yevlakh and a number of districts from midnight on 28 September,[376][377] under the Interior Minister, Vilayet Eyvazov.[378] Azerbaijan Airlines announced that all airports in Azerbaijan would be closed to regular passenger flights until 30 September.[379] The Military Prosecutor's Offices of Fizuli, Tartar, Karabakh and Ganja began criminal investigations of war and other crimes.[380]

Also on 28 September, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, issued a decree authorising a partial mobilization in Azerbaijan.[381]

On 8 October, Azerbaijan recalled its ambassador to Greece for consultations, following allegations of Armenians from Greece arriving in Nagorno-Karabakh to fight against Azerbaijan.[382]

On 12 October, the Prosecutor General's Office of the Republic of Azerbaijan launched a criminal case against a journalist for allegedly violating the Criminal Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan.[383]

Casualties and equipment losses

Civilian and military casualties have been high, officially in the hundreds and possibly in the low thousands,[85] with casualty claims not having been independently verified. Civilian areas, including major cities, have been hit, including Azerbaijan's second-largest city, Ganja, and the region's capital, Stepanakert, with many buildings and homes destroyed;[384][385] Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shusha has been damaged.[386][387]

Civilian casualties

According to Armenian sources, on 27 September, two civilians were killed by Azerbaijani shelling in Martuni Province, with[388] approximately a dozen injured in Stepanakert;[389] the Azerbaijani MoD denied these claims.[390] By 12 October, Armenian authorities reported 35 Armenian civilians killed.[60] On 10 October, Armenian media reported the killing of two civilians in Hadrut, a mother and his son with a disability, according to Armenia the killing would have been carried out by Azerbaijani infiltrators.[391][392]

According to Azerbaijani sources, the Armenian military has targeted densely populated areas containing civilian structures.[393] As of 11 October, the Prosecutor General's Office of the Republic of Azerbaijan stated that during the clashes, as a result of reported shelling by Armenian artillery and rocketing, 42 people had been killed, while 206 people had been hospitalized.[59] Civilian casualties include five residents of Qaşaltı Qaraqoyunlu, in Naftalan;[394][395] one from Evoğlu;[396] one from Kəngərli;[397] several in or from Tartar City;[398][399][400][290] two in the Şıxarx settlement in Tartar District; one in Qaradağlı, one in Xındırıstan, and one in Çəmənli in Aghdam,[401][402][403] one from Horadiz,[404] two from Aghdam;[405] two from Beylagan;[406] several from Ganja;[407][408] one from Aghjabadi;[409] one from Barda;[410] and one from Şahməmmədli in Goranboy.[411]

Armenian sources indicate the clashes have displaced approximately half of Nagorno-Karabakh's population or approximately 70,000 people.[81]

Five journalists have been injured. On 1 October, two French journalists from Le Monde covering the clashes in Martuni were injured by Azerbaijani shellfire.[412] A week later, three Russian journalists reporting in Shusha were seriously injured by an Azerbaijani attack;[413] they were subsequently evacuated to Yerevan.[414]

Military casualties

Since the beginning of the clashes the government of Azerbaijan has not revealed the number of its military casualties.[415] However, Armenian and Artsakh authorities have claimed more than 4,900 Azerbaijani soldiers were killed; as of 13 October, an Armenian media source has provided the names and ranks of 619 allegedly killed Azerbaijani servicemen.[51][unreliable source?] On 6 October, the Azerbaijani MoD denied an Armenian MoD claim of 200 deaths[416][417] after the alleged defeat of an Azerbaijani unit.[418] The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented the death of at least 119 Syrian fighters or mercenaries fighting for Azerbaijan.[43]

As of 13 October, Artsakh authorities reported the deaths of 532 servicemen,[52] and the Armenian pilot of a downed Su-25 also died.[54] However, as of 30 September, the Azerbaijani authorities claimed more than 2,300+ Armenian servicemen beign killed or wounded.[55]

Equipment losses

By 7 October Azerbaijan claimed to have destroyed about 250 tanks and other armored vehicles; 150 other military vehicles; 11 command and command-observation posts; 270 artillery units and MLRSs, including a BM-27 Uragan; 60 Armenian anti-aircraft systems, including an S-300 and 25 9K33 Osas; 18 UAVs and 8 arms depots.[55][56][57] As of 2 October, the Center for Economic Reforms Analysis and Communication of Azerbaijan estimated Armenian losses at US$1.2 billion.[419] In turn an Azerbaijani helicopter was stated to have been damaged, but its crew had apparently returned it to Azerbaijani-controlled territory without casualties.[48] On 14 October Azerbaijan stated it had further destroyed five T-72 tanks, three BM-21 Grad rocket launchers, one 9K33 Osa missile system, one BMP-2 vehicle, one KS-19 air defense gun, two D-30 howitzers and several Armenian army automobiles.[420]

Armenian and Artsakh authorities initially claimed the downing of four Azerbaijani helicopters and the destruction of ten tanks and IFVs, as well as 15 drones.[421] Later the numbers were revised to 36 tanks and armored personnel vehicles destroyed, two armored combat engineering vehicles destroyed and four helicopters and 27 unmanned aerial vehicles downed all within the first day of hostilities.[422] They released footage showing the destruction or damage of five Azerbaijani tanks.[423] Over the course of 2 October, the Artsakh Defence Army claimed the destruction of 39 Azerbaijani military vehicles, including a T-90 tank; four SU-25 fighter-bombers; three Mi-24 attack helicopters; and 17 UAVs.[424]

Analysis

In a 27 September interview, regional expert Thomas de Waal stated that it was highly unlikely that hostilities were initiated by the Armenian side as they were already in possession of the territory and were incentivized to normalise the status quo, while "for various reasons, Azerbaijan calculates that military action will win it something".[425] One analyst in the journal Foreign Policy predicted that Azerbaijan would have great difficulty in trying to occupy the entire area of Nagorno-Karabakh due to the extremely inaccessible mountainous terrain controlled by Armenian troops. In addition, he opined that the readiness of the Azerbaijani army was very poor, with morale low, its structure corrupt and inefficient, and a desertion rate as high as 20 percent. Furthermore, despite large investments in the purchase of military equipment from oil profits, the Azerbaijani army was said to lack adequate training for the use of new equipment.[78] The suspected immediate goal of the Azerbaijani attack is to capture the districts of Fuzuli and Jabrayil in southern Nagorno-Karabakh, where the terrain is less mountainous and more favorable for offensive operations.[77]

Russian military expert Mikhail Khodarenok stated that Azerbaijan had carefully planned and prepared the offensive operation; he added that the Azerbaijani army did not appear to complete its initial objectives during the first five days of the clashes, taking neither Fizuli nor Mardakert.[79] Similarly, political scientist Arkady Dubnov, an expert at the Carnegie Moscow Center and for the Russia in Global Affairs magazine,[426][427] believes that Azerbaijan launched the offensive, to improve Azerbaijan's position in a suitable season for hostilities in the terrain.[428]

Turkey appears to be using the conflict to attempt to leverage its influence in the South Caucasus along its eastern border, using both military and diplomatic resources to extend its sphere of influence in the Middle East, and to marginalize the influence of Russia, another regional power.[429][80] Russia is part of a military alliance with Armenia, but has historically pursued a policy of maintaining neutrality in the conflict, and Armenia has yet to request aid.[75] According to the director of the Russia studies program at the CNA, Russia is unlikely to intervene militarily unless Armenia incurs drastic losses.[75]

The Economist cited Azerbaijan's highly effective use of drones as indicating the future of warfare. Noting that it had previously been assumed that drones would not play a major role in conflicts between nations due to their vulnerability to anti-aircraft fire, it suggested that while this might be true for major powers with air defences, it was less true for minor powers. It noted Azerbaijani tactics and Turkey's use of drones in the Syrian civil war as indicating a "new, more affordable type of air power". It also noted that the ability of drones to record their kills enabled a highly effective Azerbaijani propaganda campaign.[108]

The role of historically recent dehumanization in the resumption of the conflict has been emphasized. Major clashes related to the politics of Imperial Russia began in 1905 and worsened during the collapse of the Soviet Union; these contributed to racialization and fierce nationalism, causing both Armenians and Azerbaijanis to stereotype each other, shaping respective sociopolitical discourses.[430] During and after the Nagorno-Karabakh War anti-Azerbaijani sentiment grew in Armenia, leading to harassment of Azerbaijanis there.[431][432][433][434] The incitement of hatred against Armenians and promotion of hate speech is one of the main challenges of creating the necessary conditions to enhance the peace process, as well as to establish an atmosphere of confidence between the people of the conflicting sides.[435][436]

Official statements

The Armenian ambassador to the United States Varuzhan Nersesyan has invited US intervention in the conflict, as has his Azerbaijani counterpart Elin Suleymanov.[437]

Armenia and Artsakh

President of the National Assembly Ararat Mirzoyan (second from left) leads a moment of silence honoring Armenian soldiers and civilians who perished in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

On 27 September, the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, accused the Azerbaijani authorities of a large-scale provocation. The Prime Minister stated that the "recent aggressive statements of the Azerbaijani leadership, large-scale joint military exercises with Turkey, as well as the rejection of OSCE proposals for monitoring" indicated that the aggression was pre-planned and constituted a major violation of regional peace and security.[438] The next day, Armenia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) issued a statement, stating that the "people of Artsakh were at war with the Turkish–Azerbaijani alliance".[439]

The Armenian Ambassador to Russia, Vardan Toganyan, did not rule out that Armenia may turn to Russia for fresh arms supplies.[440] On 29 September, Prime Minister Pashinyan stated that Azerbaijan, with military support from Turkey, was expanding the theater into Armenian territory.[441] On 30 September, Prime Minister Pashinyan stated that Armenia was considering officially recognising the Republic of Artsakh as an independent territory.[442] The same day, the Armenian MoFA stated that the Turkish Air Force had carried out provocative flights along the front between the forces of the Republic of Artsakh and Azerbaijan, including providing air support to the Azerbaijani army.[443]

On 1 October, the President of Artsakh, Arayik Harutyunyan, stated that Armenians needed to prepare for a long-term war.[444] Two days later, the Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) Foreign Ministry called on the international community to recognise the independence of the Republic of Artsakh in order to restore regional peace and security.[445] On 4 October, the Armenian government stated Azerbaijan had deployed cluster munitions against residential targets in Stepanakert; an Amnesty International investigator condemned this.[446] The next day, Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Zohrab Mnatsakanyan stated to Fox News that the targeting of civilian populations in Nagorno-Karabakh by Azerbaijani forces was tantamount to war crimes and called for an end to the "aggression".[447]

On 6 October, the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated that the Armenian side is ready to make concessions, if Azerbaijan is ready to do the same.[448]

Azerbaijan

Meeting of the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev with the country's Security Council on 27 September.

On 26 September, according to the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence, the day before the offensive, the Armenian military had fired in different directions along the front line, violating the ceasefire 48 times. Azerbaijan stated that the Armenian side attacked first, adding that Azerbaijani forces then launched a counter-offensive.[449]

On 27 September, the Assistant to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Head of the Foreign Policy Department of the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Hikmat Hajiyev, accused Armenian forces of a "willful and deliberate" attack on the front line[450] and of targeting civilian areas, alleging a "gross violation of international humanitarian law".[451] On 28 September, Hajiyev stated that Armenia's actions had destroyed the peace negotiations through an act of aggression,[452] alleged that a war had been launched against Azerbaijan, mobilised the people of Azerbaijan, and declared a Great Patriotic War.[453] Hajiyev then stated that the deployment of the Armenian military in Nagorno-Karabakh constituted a threat to regional peace and accused Armenia of propagandising, adding that the Azerbaijani military was operating according to international law.[454] The Azerbaijani State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs issued a statement accusing the Armenian military of purposefully targeting civilians, including women and children.[455] Furthermore, the Azerbaijani Minister of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) denied any claims of Turkish involvement, while admitting military-technical cooperation with Turkey and other countries.[456]

On 29 September, the President of Azerbaijan spoke about Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. Aliyev stated that the Armenian occupation and aggression had led to the destruction of infrastructure and mosques, caused the Khojaly massacre, and resulted in cultural genocide, insulting the Muslim world and being tantamount to state-backed Islamophobia and anti-Azerbaijani sentiment.[457] Azerbaijani authorities issued a joint statement on alleged war crimes against civilians by Armenia.[458] The Azerbaijani MoFA demanded that Armenia stop shelling civilians and called on international organizations to ensure Armenia followed international law.[459] The Azerbaijani Ambassador to Russia denied reports of mercenaries brought in from Turkey by Azerbaijan,[460] and the First Vice-President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mehriban Aliyeva, stated that Azerbaijan had never laid claim to others' territory nor committed crimes against humanity.[461]

On 3 October, Aliyev stated that Armenia needed to leave Azerbaijan's territory (in Nagorno-Karabakh) for the war to stop.[462] The next day, Aliyev issued an official statement that Azerbaijan was "writing a new history", describing Karabakh as an ancient Azerbaijani territory and longstanding home to Azerbaijanis, and noting that Armenians had occupied Azerbaijan's territory, destroying its religious and cultural heritage, for three decades. He added that Azerbaijan would restore its cities and destroyed mosques and accused Armenia of distorting history.[463]

On 5 October, the Azerbaijan government stated that Armenia had deployed cluster munitions against cities.[464] Three days later, Aliyev accused the Armenian Armed Forces of committing war crimes through the firing of ballistic missiles at civilian settlements.[465] He also accused Armenia of ethnic discrimination on account of the historical expulsion or self-exile of ethnic minority communities, highlighting its mono-ethnic population.[466]

On 10 October, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov stated that the truce signed on the same day was temporary.[467] Despite this, Ilham Aliyev stated that both parties were now attempting to determine a political resolution to the conflict.[82] The next day, Hikmat Hajiyev stated that Armenia was conducting an act of genocide, emphasizing the Khojaly massacre.[468]

Allegations of third-party involvement

Because of the geography, history, and sensitivities of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, accusations, allegations, and statements have been made of involvement by third-party and international actors, including in media reports and by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). Evidence of the presence of Syrian fighters in Azerbaijan is growing.[469]

Turkey and Syrian National Army

Two days into the armed conflict, several Syrian National Army members and the SOHR[42] alleged that a private Turkish security company was recruiting Syrians to fight in Artsakh;[470] this was denied by Azerbaijan[471] and Turkey. A report in The Times partially confirmed Turkish involvement in sending 200 Syrian fighters to support Azerbaijani forces;[472] a Turkish-based source reported that these are acting independently of the SNA.[7] Russia has expressed concern over "illegal armed units" from Syria and Libya in the conflict zone.[473] The SOHR has confirmed a total of 320 Syrian fighters in Azerbaijan, primarily of Syrian-Turkmen descent from the Sultan Murad Division, and noted that they had not participated in the clashes. The SOHR stated that Arab-majority Syrian rebel groups had refused to send their fighters to Azerbaijan.[474] As of 1 October 2020, the SOHR confirmed the deaths of 28 Syrian fighters and nearly 60 injured or missing.[475] Later, Emmanuel Macron accused Turkey of dispatching Syrian "jihadists" to Nagorno-Karabakh via Gaziantep.[4] On 2 October, Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported 700–1,000 militants had apparently been sent to Azerbaijan and detailed their transport and recruitment itinerary, referring to the Hamza Division and the Samarkand and Nureddin Zinki Brigades.[476] On 3 October, Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan claimed that Syrian fighters, together with Turkish army specialists, were involved, together with circa 150 senior Turkish military officers, allegedly directing military operations.[477] The same day, the National Security Service of Armenia presented intercepted conversations, allegedly between the Turkish and Azerbaijani military, as well as conversations allegedly between the Azerbaijani military and mercenaries in Arabic.[478] Elizabeth Tsurkov, an American expert on Syria, reported on videos of Arabic-speaking foreigners, who she identified as likely Syrian mercenaries in Horadiz, urging compatriots to join them.[469][479] The Georgian State Security Service stated that news about the passage of Syrian fighters from Turkey through Georgia to Azerbaijan was disinformation.[480] On 5 October, Russian News Agency RIA Novosti stated that 322 Syrian "mercenaries" were in the conflict zone and that 93 had been killed, while 430 from Syria had already arrived.[481] On 6 October, Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service alleged that several thousand fighters from Middle East terrorist organizations had arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh to fight for Azerbaijan, specifically from Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda branch), Firkat Hamza, and the Sultan Murad Division, as well as extremist Kurdish groups, claiming all were linked to the Islamic State (ISIL).[482][483] The same day, reiterating accusations by French President Macron that Turkey has sent Syrian fighters to the conflict, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad confirmed their involvement without offering evidence.[484] On 13 October, the SOHR stated that at least 119 pro-Turkey Syrian rebel fighters, who were among more than 1,450 combatants, had been killed in clashes.[43] Meanwhile, an unidentified SNA leader, the Jesr Press and a The Guardian article confirmed the deaths of dozens of Syrian fighters.[485][486][487]

Armenian diaspora fighters and Kurdish militias

Before the conflict, Turkish sources alleged that YPG and PKK members from Iraq and Syria were transferred to Nagorno-Karabakh in order to train Armenian militias against Azerbaijan,[103] and on 30 September, Turkish sources alleged that approximately 300 PKK militants were transported to Nagorno-Karabakh via Iran.[488][489][490] However, according to a Washington Post commentator, these claims may be doubted, due to Turkey having previously issued questionable statements regarding PKK and YPG activities.[491] A Jerusalem Post commentator wrote that the Daily Sabah's suggestions of PKK/YPG involvement in Karabakh were designed to create a justification for Turkey to claim the PKK was threatening its 'security' so that it could invade, noting that Turkey had used this same excuse to attack northern Iraq and Syria.[492] On 28 September, the Azerbaijani MoD alleged that among the Armenian casualties were mercenaries of Armenian origin from Syria and a variety of Middle East countries.[493] On the same day, the Turkish Minister of Defence stated that Armenia must "send back the mercenaries and terrorists it brought from abroad".[494] Two days later, the Azerbaijani President's Foreign Policy Advisor stated that the international community "should adequately respond to the use of terrorist forces by Armenia".[495] The SOHR also stated that Armenian-born Syrian fighters were being transported to Armenia to fight against Azerbaijan.[474][496] On 4 October, the Turkish MoD demanded that PKK-YPG "terrorists", allegedly cooperating with Armenians in targeting civilians, vacate the region.[497] The next day, the Azerbaijan stated that Armenia had widely employed foreign terrorist forces and mercenaries against it, with there being clear evidence of people of Armenian origin from the Middle East, especially Syria and Lebanon, and subsequently Russia, Georgia, Greece, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries.[498] In his report Lebanese journalist of Novaya Gazeta, Wadih el-Hayek, based on the secret information from the Lebanese Ministry of Internal Affairs, stated that over the past few days, about 500 local citizens, ethnic Armenians, have left Lebanon to enter the battlefield in Nagorno-Karabakh.[499]

On 6 October, the Azerbaijani State Security Service (SSS) claimed that Armenia had employed foreign mercenaries, including members of Kurdish militant groups whom Armenia has brought from Iraq and Syria, to fight Azerbaijan. To substantiate this, the Azerbaijani SSS presented intercepted conversations allegedly between PKK members.[500]

Arms supplies

Israel

Israel, a major trading partner and weapons supplier for Azerbaijan, is reported to have continued to ship weapons, especially drones, during the conflict.[501]

Russia, Iran and Georgia[edit]

During the conflict, Azerbaijani and Iranian media reported that Russian weaponry and military hardware were being transported to Armenia via Iran.[18] On 29 September, the Iranian Foreign Ministry denied these claims.[21] The next day, Azerbaijani government-affiliated media outlets shared footage reportedly showing the materiel being transported.[19][20][502] Azerbaijani MP Sabir Rustamkhanli alleged that Iran was engaged in transporting weapons from various countries to Armenia.[503] Subsequently, in the Azerbaijani Parliament, Rustamkhanli suggested opening an Azerbaijani embassy in Israel.[504] The Chief of Staff of the President of Iran, in a phone call with the Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan, denied the claims and stated that they were aimed at disrupting both countries' relations.[22] Iranian state-affiliated media stated that trucks depicted in the footage consisted of shipments of Kamaz trucks that the Armenian government had previously purchased from Russia.[505]

Serbia

Azerbaijan has claimed that Armenia is employing Serbian weapons, alleged to have been transported via Georgia.[506] In response, the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, stated that Serbia considers both Armenia and Azerbaijan to be friends and "brotherly nations", insisting that Serbian weapons were not being used in Nagorno-Karabakh.[507]

International reactions

Supranational and regional organisations

President of the European Council Charles Michel called for a bilateral cessation of hostilities,[119] as did the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe[508] and Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres[119] followed by the United Nations Security Council.[74] Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg did likewise and urged Turkey to use its influence to that end.[509]

Secretary General of the Organization of American States Luis Almagro demanded that Azerbaijan cease hostilities,[510] whereas the Turkic Council demanded an unconditional withdrawal of Armenia from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.[511]

Countries

Representatives of countries, including Albania,[512] Argentina,[513] Canada,[514] Chile,[515] China,[516] Croatia,[517] Estonia,[518][519] France,[520][521][522] Georgia,[523] Germany,[524] Greece,[525] India,[526][527] Indonesia,[528] Iran,[529][530][531] Kazakhstan,[532] Latvia,[533][534] Lithuania,[535][534] Moldova,[536] Poland,[537] Romania,[538][539] Russia,[521][522][540] Saudi Arabia,[541] the United Kingdom,[542] the United States,[521][522][543] Uruguay,[544] and the Holy See,[524] have called for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

The governments of Turkey and Pakistan expressed support for Azerbaijan. Turkey blamed Armenia for violating the ceasefire.[524][545][546] Further, Turkey issued a statement on 1 October dismissing the joint demands from France, Russia, and the United States calling for a ceasefire.[547][548] Bosniak member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Šefik Džaferović and the leader of the Party of Democratic Action, Bakir Izetbegović, voiced support for Azerbaijan, condemning Armenia and comparing the situation with the 1992-1995 Bosnian War.[549][550] Afghanistan called for an end to Armenian occupation in Nagorno-Karabakh while calling for a cease-fire, urging the parties involved to resolve the long-standing crisis peacefully.[551] The partially recognised Northern Cyprus expressed support for Azerbaijan.[552]

Hungary stated it backed Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, declaring that "Armenian-majority Nagorno-Karabakh lies within the borders of Azerbaijan", adding that Hungary supports the reduction of tensions in the escalating conflict and a negotiated solution in the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group.[553][554] Ukraine stated that it supports Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and that it would not provide military assistance to either state[555][556][557] and that it wanted to avoid an ethnic conflict between its own Armenian and Azerbaijani communities.[558] Iran stated that no military solution to the conflict existed and expressed support for Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, emphasizing the need for a ceasefire and political dialogue and expressing concern over conflict.[559][560] Israeli President Reuven Rivlin expressed sorrow at the resumption of violence and loss of life. He stated that Israel's long-standing cooperation and relations with Azerbaijan is not for offensive purposes. Rivlin stated that Israel is interested in promoting relations with Armenia and is prepared to offer humanitarian aid.[561] Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz accused Turkey of disrupting peace efforts in the region and called for international pressure on Turkey to dissuade "direct terrorism".[562] The Israeli Foreign Ministry has declined to comment on the possibility of Israel halting support for Azerbaijan.[563]

United States president Donald Trump said his administration was "looking at [the conflict] very strongly" and that it was seeing whether it could stop it.[564] Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden demanded that Turkey "stay out" of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.[565] In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Bob Menendez, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and several other lawmakers called for the Trump administration to immediately suspend U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan,[566][567] sent through Pentagon’s "building partner assistance program."[567][568] Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called the influence of third party actors like Turkey "troubling".[569]

Cyprus condemned Azerbaijan for breaching the ceasefire and for any escalating actions, calling for a return to peaceful negotiations.[570] Syria blamed Turkey for the conflict.[484] The unrecognised or partially recognised countries of Transnistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia recognise the independence of the Republic of Artsakh.[571] Transnistria expressed its desire for a resolution of the conflict and sympathy for the "brotherly people" of Artsakh.[572][573] Abkhazia urged the international community to prevent aggression against Artsakh[571] and expressed hope for the conflict to end;[574] while South Ossetia asked the international community to stop the conflict,[575] blaming Azerbaijan for starting "crimes against humanity" against the "brotherly Artsakh".[576][577]

Minorities abroad

Armenians

Pro-Armenian Protest in the USA, 10 October 2020

On 1 October, the Armenian minority of South Ossetia condemned the actions of Azerbaijan, which in their view had attacked Artsakh's cities with Turkey's support. They referenced Armenians who had helped South Ossetia during the Georgian–Ossetian conflict and affirmed that Artsakh's independence should be recognised.[578] The next day, Armenians in Samtskhe–Javakheti expressed concern about the conflict and their intention to send aid to Armenia and Artsakh.[579] Subsequently, Georgia closed its border with Armenia, indicating frustration within Georgia's Armenian minority.[580] The leader of the Armenian diaspora in Croatia asked for support against what she described as a genocide against the Armenians.[581] On 5 October, Armenian Americans staged a protest outside the Los Angeles CNN building, calling for more accurate coverage of the conflict.[582] On 11 October 2020, the Armenian community of Los Angeles held a 100,000-person strong march to the Turkish Consulate to protest the conflict, in tandem with smaller protests in Washington, San Francisco, New York, Boston and elsewhere in the United States. Armenian diaspora also held protests in all of the EU member countries with the largest one being held in front of the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels, Belgium.[583][584][585]

Azerbaijanis

On 1 October, Ali Khamenei's representatives in four provinces (Ardabil, East Azerbaijan, West Azerbaijan and Zanjan) stated that Nagorno-Karabakh belonged to Azerbaijan, that there was a need to return the territory, and that Azerbaijan's government had acted in accordance with the law.[586][559] The next day, several protests erupted in Iranian cities, including the capital Tehran and Tabriz, in support of Azerbaijan. Iranian Azerbaijani demonstrators chanted pro-Azerbaijan slogans.[587] The same day, around 50 Azerbaijani representatives from the 5,000-strong community in Moldova expressed their support for Azerbaijan in the capital Chișinău.[588] On 3 October, Azerbaijanis in Georgia indicated a readiness to fight for Azerbaijan and the desire that Azerbaijan retake Nagorno-Karabakh.[589]

Sports

Due to the conflict, UEFA announced that the 2020–21 UEFA Nations League C home matches of Armenia and Azerbaijan will no longer be hosted in the countries; instead Armenia will play their designated "home" game in Tychy, Poland; while Azerbaijan will play in Elbasan, Albania.[590]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Turkey and Azerbaijan deny direct involvement of Turkey.[3]
  2. ^ Alleged by Armenia, France and Russia;[4][5][6][7][8] denied by Azerbaijan,[9][10] Turkey[11] and some SNA officials.[7]
  3. ^ Alleged by Azerbaijan,[17] and reports that Russia supplied arms to Armenia via Iran[18][19][20] and Georgia.[citation needed] It has been denied by Iran.[21][22]
  4. ^ In Armenia, it is usually called the Azerbaijani aggression (Armenian: ադրբեջանական ագրեսիա, adrbejanakan agresia)[66][67] or the Azerbaijani-Turkish aggression (ադրբեջանա-թուրքական ագրեսիա, adrbejana-turkakan agresia).[68] In Azerbaijan, it has been code-named Operation for peace enforcement of Armenia (Azerbaijani: Ermənistanı sülhə məcburetmə əməliyyatı) by the government.[69]

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  279. ^ "President: 'Several villages of Jabrayil were liberated from occupation'". APA.az. 5 October 2020. Retrieved 5 October 2020. Today, the Azerbaijani army liberated Shikhali Agali, Sarijali, Mazra villages of Jabrayil region and several strategic heights in different directions. The successful operation of our heroic army continues. Karabakh is Azerbaijan!
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