Four Armenian members of the armed forces killed by Azerbaijan

Updated: Azerbaijan Continues Shelling Border Towns in Armenia, Resulting in Numerous Deaths

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YEREVAN (Combined Sources) —The Azerbaijani side has resumed military actions in violation of an agreement on cessation of hostilities, the Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on July 16.

On July 16, early in the morning, the combat groups of the armed forces of Azerbaijan resumed military operations on the state border of the Republic of Armenia in the vicinity of Aygepar and Movses villages with the use of mortars and heavy artillery.

Having received a proportionate response from the Armed Forces of Armenia, the forces of Azerbaijan were repelled with losses. With no gain in the battlefield, the Azerbaijani military units began shelling the villages of Movses and Aygepar deliberately targeting the civilian infrastructures and the population.

“It should be stressed that this aggression came as a treacherous violation of an arrangement on cessation of hostilities reached earlier and following the July 15 statement by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs on the establishment of relative calm on the border,” the Ministry said.

“As a result of its short-sighted policy, the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan is at an impasse and now is resorting to perilous, ill-conceived steps for which it will bear responsibility also before its own people,” the Ministry added.

The Foreign Minister said it is in constant contact with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship. In the present situation the efforts aimed at unconditional, complete restoration, preservation and strengthening of the ceasefire are imperative.

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Four Armenian officers and seven Azerbaijani servicemen, including an army general, and were killed on Tuesday, July 14, in fierce fighting that continued on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border for the third consecutive day.

Shushan Stepanian, the spokeswoman for Armenia’s Defense Ministry, said Major Garush Hambardzumian and Captain Sos Elbakian were killed by enemy fire.

In addition, three Armenian contract servicemen were wounded in Azerbaijan’s shooting from across the border on Monday, July 13, she added.

Azerbaijan’s aggression against the security of the civilian population of Armenia will receive a proportionate response, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anna Naghdalyan said Tuesday, July 14.

“The Azerbaijani side continues its aggression on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, deliberately targeting civilian infrastructures and population, and expanding the geography of escalation. Today the civilian infrastructure of the city of Berd was shelled by unmanned combat aerial vehicles,” Naghdalyan said.

“The aggression against the security of the civilian population of Armenia will receive a proportionate response, for which the Azerbaijani side bears full responsibility.”

Defense Ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan said earlier that no casualties were reported in the combat drone attack on Berd.

Azerbaijan launched two failed infiltration attempts on the border with Armenia whose troops immediately identified the saboteurs and thwarted them back to their positions on Sunday, July 12. On Monday morning, the Azerbaijani military resumed attacks and continued firing on Armenian positions.

A source told PanARMENIAN.Net, meanwhile, that the Armenian Armed Forces have now occupied a new position in the province of Tavush, which neutralizes the communication routes of one of the largest Azerbaijani bases in the region.

The Armenian Army has made available footage from punitive measures taken against Azerbaijan overnight.

The air defense subdivision of the Armenian Armed Forces, meanwhile, struck an Azerbaijani drone fire control system on Tuesday, July 14, Stepanyan has said.

The truce violations there continued despite calls for an immediate end to the skirmishes voiced by Russia, the European Union and the United States. The U.S., Russian and French mediators trying to a broker a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict urged Armenia and Azerbaijan on Monday resume peace talks “as soon as possible.”

Armenian combat UAVs were put into action for the first time, as Armenia undertook punitive actions against Azerbaijan last night.

“July 13 will remain in history as the day, when the combat UAVs of Armenian production were put into action. For the first time, Armenian combat UAVs were used, in combat conditions, and showed brilliant results,” former Spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense Artsrun Hovhannisyan said in a Facebook post.

“It seems high-ranking officers became victims of their strike,” he added.

Lawmaker Andranik Kocharyan has revealed that the Armenian military has downed several Azerbaijan UAVs, including a kamikaze drone, after Azerbaijan launched provocations on the border on Sunday, July 12.

Banak.info has published a photo of one of the downed UAVs which it said is most probably ThunderB drone.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan condemned Baku’s “provocative actions” during a cabinet meeting in Yerevan. “I can assure you that their provocative actions do not remain unanswered,” he said, appealing to the nation.

He added, “With their resumption, the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan will bear all the responsibility for the unpredictable consequences of regional destabilization. Of great concern is Turkey’s policy of inciting regional instability, which is best reflected in the official statement of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, which expresses its unconditional support for Azerbaijan’s actions, with an obvious anti-Armenian logic. This military incident did not occur in a vacuum. For some time now, the Azerbaijani leadership has been trying to play the anti-Armenian card for their well-known motives.”

Russia Concerned

Russia called for an immediate end to heavy fighting.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov phoned his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts to discuss the tense situation there on July 13.

“We find inadmissible a further escalation threatening the security of the region,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We are calling on the conflicting sides to show restraint and strictly adhere to the ceasefire regime.”

“For its part, the Russian Foreign Ministry is ready to provide necessary support for stabilizing the situation,” added the statement.

Foreign Ministers Zohrab Mnatsakanyan of Armenia and Elmar Mammadyarov of Azerbaijan stood by their countries’ official versions of events during their separate phone conversations with Lavrov.

Earlier in the day, the secretary general of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Stanislav Zas, called an emergency meeting of the Permanent Council of the Russian-led defense alliance, of which Armenia is a member, to discuss the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontier.

The meeting was postponed indefinitely a couple of hours later, however. A spokesman for Zas refused to say who initiated the delay. He only told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that the CSTO Secretariat and member states need to ascertain the “format” of the discussion beforehand.

Zas and Mnatsakanyan also spoke by phone on Monday. “Constant contact with the CSTO Secretary General is maintained, and efforts within the CSTO framework are continuing,” said the official Armenian readout of the phone call.

Turkish Interference

Armenia accused Turkey of trying to heighten tensions in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry decried “yet another manifestation of Armenia’s aggressive nationalism” in a statement issued late on Sunday hours after the outbreak of heavy fighting there. It accused Armenia of continuing to occupy Azerbaijani territory and hampering the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

“Turkey will continue, with all its capacity, to stand by Azerbaijan in its struggle to protect its territorial integrity,” added the statement added.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry dismissed these “utterly false and misleading” claims and charged that the Turkish government is trying to “instigate instability in our region.”

“This provocative attitude by Turkey and its groundless accusations against Armenia attest to the fact that this country has been acting not as a member of the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] Minsk Group but as a party involved in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” read a ministry statement. “This fact makes it even more impossible for Turkey to play any role in issues related to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within international and particularly the OSCE framework.”

Successive Turkish governments have lent Azerbaijan full and unconditional support throughout the Karabakh conflict. They have made the establishment of diplomatic relations with Armenia conditional on a Karabakh settlement acceptable to Baku.

Armenia has always rejected this precondition. It has forged close military ties with Russia to counter what many Armenians see as a serious security threat from Turkey. From Yerevan’s perspective, the presence of thousands of Russian troops in Armenia precludes Turkey’s direct military intervention on Azerbaijan’s side.

Incidentally, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by phone on Monday. Their press offices did not list the Karabakh dispute among the issues discussed by the two leaders.

Leaders in Armenia in Turmoil

The Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II led a July 13 meeting to receive updates and issue a statement on the previous day’s attempt to penetrate Armenia’s northeastern border region, in the province of Tavush, by the armed forces of Azerbaijan.

“We are deeply concerned to be informed of this latest violation committed by Azerbaijan against the northern border of Armenia, which has resulted in injury to Armenian soldiers,” read the statement. “Azerbaijan’s excuse for the military incursion is incomprehensible.”

The bishops’ statement continued: “We condemn this aggression towards our country, and invite the international community to prevent further potential recurrances of such military actions.

“While praying for the rapid recovery of our children afflicted by the Azerbaijanis, we affirm our support for Armenia’s authorities, our soldiers, and our brave children residing near the border. We wish them courage in the face of enemy attacks.”

The message concludes: “We pray for the steady progress of peace in the region, so that our people can resume their normal lives.”

The border attacks are especially pernicious as they come while Armenia is waging battle on a medical front, against an increase in COVID-19 cases.

In addition, Anna Hakobyan, the wife of Prime Minister Pashinyan, on Monday urged the Azerbaijani women and mothers to call on their country’s military-political leadership to suspend the military operations, do not endanger the lives of soldiers of the Azerbaijani and Armenian peoples. (https://www.facebook.com/wifeofarmenianPM/photos/a.405675636891665/729769587815600/)

Hakobyan said on Facebook that the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border has become tense starting July 12.

“As the founder of the Women For Peace campaign, I urge the Azerbaijani women and mothers to call on their country’s military-political leadership to suspend the military operations, do not endanger the lives of sons of the Azerbaijani and Armenian peoples.

“Women, mothers and sisters should ask their military-political leadership what they have got at the expense of the loss of their beloved ones, their personal tragedy, and what is hindering to discuss the issues in the conditions of peace, through the negotiations with the leadership of the other side.

“Especially during these pandemic days the heads of state should direct their efforts for maintaining the health of their own peoples and against one common enemy – the war against the pandemic, in order to return the humanity to their normal life,” Hakobyan said.

(Sources used were PanArmenian.net, RFE/RL and Armenpress.)

 

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