Amid Shelling Of Azeri City, Baku & Yerevan Swap Truce Breach Accusations

Fuad Muxtarlı Analysis 13 October 2020
Amid Shelling Of Azeri City, Baku & Yerevan Swap Truce Breach Accusations

The humanitarian cease-fire, brokered by Russia, following the marathon talks between the Armenian and the Azerbaijani foreign ministers with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in presence after almost two-week long fierce fighting in the separatist Karabakh, has almost come apart at the seams.

Russia-backed move was designed to end fighting to let Armenia and Azerbaijan to exchange prisoners and victims of the fighting. As soon as the Moscow accord came into force, Baku and Yerevan traded accusations and Azerbaijan’s second largest city Ganca was hit by SCUD ballistic missile launched as President Ilham Aliyev said from Armenia’s Vardenis region.
Qazanfar Ahmadov, executive director of the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA), also confirmed that a Scud ballistic missile was launched by the Armenian armed forces on a residential area in the city of Ganca.

Earlier on Sunday, Azerbaijan accused Armenia of heavily shelling a residential area in Ganca, its second-largest city, in the early hours of the morning, and of hitting an apartment building.

The Azerbaijani Prosecutor-General’s Office said nine people had been killed and 34 wounded in the attack. Official Baku also accused Armenia of launching an unsuccessful rocket attack on the Mingacevir hydroelectric power plant.

On October 12, the Azerbaijan army kept dominant position along the entire length of the front amid the formal proceeding of the Moscow humanitarian truce.

On the night of October 11-12, the situation along the entire front remained stably tense, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said, blaming units of the Armenian armed forces for not complying with the humanitarian truce and making several attempts to attack positions of the Azerbaijani Army in small groups in Agdara-Agdam and Fuzuli-Cabrayil directions in order to regain the lost positions.

As a result of the hostilities, a large number of enemy manpower, as well as three BM-21 Grad MLRS, one T-72 tank, and several vehicles were destroyed and disabled in different directions of the front, the report added.

During the combat operations, the chief of artillery of the ninth regiment of the Armenian armed forces, together with the unit under his command, retreated from the Hadrut direction, and the personnel of the fifth battalion of the regiment, leaving the military equipment assigned to him in combat positions, fled, the same report quoted the ministry as saying.

The personnel of the 5th and 522nd regiments also retreated, leaving automotive and armored vehicles in position. As a result of an artillery strike in the direction of the settlement of Qirmizi Bazar, an underground shelter and two pieces of equipment of the retreating unit of the Armenian armed forces were destroyed at the point of permanent deployment of the first regiment.

Among the numerous losses in the enemy's manpower was also the battalion commander of the 246th regiment, Lt-Col Artur Grigoryan. In the defense sector of the first regiment of the Armenian armed forces, a firefight took place due to disruption of communication and interaction between the retreating units. The personnel of anti-tank and other units also left the combat positions. At present, the troops of the Azerbaijan army have an operational advantage along the entire length of the front, the ministry said.

Russia remains optimistic

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the work was currently underway to develop mechanisms for monitoring compliance with the cease-fire, he said this in Moscow at the meeting with the Armenian foreign minister.
Russia expects that in the near future there will be an opportunity to reverse the situation on the ground in Karabakh and establish a truce.

"We will actively deal with this issue both as one of the three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group and as Russia, a very close ally and strategic partner of our neighbors," Russia’s Lavrov said.

He noted that the "joint night vigils", which ended with the agreement of the document, were not in vain and expressed the hope that in the near future, it would be possible to reverse the situation on the ground. At least both Russia and the warring parties are interested in this, he added.

He noted that issues related to monitoring compliance with the ceasefire regime are of key importance. In telephone conversations between President Putin and his colleagues from Baku and Yerevan, which preceded the meeting in Moscow, the topic of verification and control over the implementation of the ceasefire agreement was also touched upon, he opined.

Foreign diplomats in Ganca

On October 12, heads of diplomatic corps, ambassadors, military attaches, and heads of representations of international organizations in Azerbaijan were taken to Ganca to see the destruction caused by the Armenian missile attack.

The foreign diplomats were informed that the aggressor Armenian armed forces continue to subject to heavy artillery fire Azerbaijani civilians, violating the norms and principles of international law, the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, as well as the agreement on humanitarian cease-fire.

It was noted that on October 11, 2020, at around 0200 am midnight, the Armenian troops fired rockets on Ganca, the second largest city of Azerbaijan that is far beyond the battlefield, in crude violation of humanitarian cease-fire a result of which 9 civilians killed, 34 people including 6 kids and 16 women were injured.

The attacks on densely populated areas with Tochka-U, Smerch, Scud and other missiles is aimed at killing a large number of people. The missile attack on Ganca, the city located far from the line of contact, was launched from Vardenis region of Armenia, the report said.

The diplomats were also informed that these actions by Armenia contradict the agreement on humanitarian cease-fire reached in Moscow. Although Azerbaijan complied with the humanitarian truce, Armenia has committed acts of vandalism against the civilian population.

At a time when the sides claimed observance to the Moscow accord, Azerbaijani Defense Ministry spokesman Col Vaqif Dargahli denied Armenia’s claims it downed an Azerbaijani SU-25, calling it as “a blatant lie". This claim of Armenia came amid its assertion of honoring the Moscow accord.

“The message of the Armenian Defense Ministry about the allegedly another "shot down" of an Azerbaijani Su-25 jet is a blatant lie of despair,” Col Vaqif Dargahli told journalists.

Azerbaijan did not use a combat jet and we fully adhere to the requirements of a humanitarian truce, he said.

"Everything around Hadrut is under our control," Azerbaijani president

“The Azerbaijani army continues its liberation mission. We liberate new positions every day. These positions are not necessarily villages or cities. Let it be a height, a mountain - this is also important. We will still return to the cities. The most important issue for us is taking strategic heights,” Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in an interview with Turkish Haber Global channel.

“Everything around Hadrut is under our control. We are in the city, too. However, to enter or not to enter the city is another question. We do not have such a political obligation to announce one place today and another tomorrow. In some cases, we liberate villages and cities, but we report this in a day or two. And this has its own tactics,” the Azerbaijani president said.

New territories freed in Karabakh

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev announced the liberation of new settlements from the Armenian occupation in Karabakh, Interfax Azerbaijan reports.

"The victorious Azerbaijani army, one might say, achieves combat successes every day. Every day a city and a village are liberated or these villages are taken under the control of the Azerbaijani armed forces. I can say that today several settlements are under our control, we just do not yet enter these territories, since from a military point of view, this is not necessary. But after a certain period of time we will announce new achievements," Aliyev added.

No battles for Hadrut, Azerbaijani Defense Ministry

Armenia’s information that the Azerbaijani army has concentrated a significant amount of forces and is conducting intense battles in order to enter Hadrut is outright disinformation, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said.

It should be recalled that the Azerbaijani army liberated Hadrut from occupation several days ago. "We inform you that the Azerbaijani army strictly observes the humanitarian cease-fire and does not conduct active combat activities," the message reads.