Turkish Bayraktar drone shot down in Armenia

Death Toll Rises as War Continues

YEREVAN (Combined Sources) — As the war is stretching into its third week, the casualties are mounting and the entire Republic of Artsakh is under attack, as is Armenia.

Reflecting that sense of urgency, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev expressed readiness on October 19 to meet in Moscow for urgent talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The two men were interviewed by the official Russian news agency TASS as heavy fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces continued in and around Karabakh.

“The Karabakh conflict must be resolved by exclusively peaceful means … And I’m ready to make every effort to achieve such a result, including to travel [to Moscow,] meet and talk,” said Pashinyan.

He said that Armenia remains committed to a “compromise” peace deal. “If there is no such readiness on the opposite side we are ready to fight till the end for our people, our compatriots in Nagorno-Karabakh,” he said.

Get the Mirror in your inbox:

Aliyev said, for his part, that Baku is “prepared for any contacts” with Yerevan. “We are always ready to meet in Moscow or any other place to end the conflict and reach a settlement,” he told TASS.

Aliyev noted at the same time that he has received “no such invitation” from Russia yet.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hosted on October 9-10 talks between his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts that resulted in an agreement to stop hostilities in the conflict zone. However, the fighting has continued since then, with each side accusing the other of violating the agreement.

Lavrov said earlier on Monday that Moscow keeps pressing the sides to stop the war and resume “substantive” peace talks that will center on a framework peace accord proposed by the Russian, French and U.S. co-chairs of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Pashinyan put the emphasis on Azerbaijan’s recognition of the Karabakh Armenians’ right to self-determination. This issue is of “strategic importance” to the Armenian side, he said.

In addition, the United Nations Security Council again discussed the continuing war over Nagorno-Karabakh late on Monday at a meeting initiated by France, Russia and the United States and, the three world powers trying to end the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

Vasily Nebenzya, the Russian ambassador to the UN who chaired the closed-door meeting, said it discussed ways of ensuring the conflicting parties’ compliance with ceasefire agreements.

“It is now necessary to ensure the implementation, this is the most pressing issue because a relevant agreement was reached but not respected,” the TASS news agency quoted Nebenzya as saying. “The main question remains how to ensure a verification of its implementation.”

“This issue was certainly discussed during the consultations, and the council was quite unanimous in its approach,” he told reporters in New York.

Nebenzya did not exclude that foreign observers would be deployed by and operate under the aegis of the OSCE.

“The questions of who will be there and in what capacity remain open and under discussion,” said the Russian diplomat.

Rising Death Toll

The fighting in and around Karabakh reportedly continued on Monday night and on Tuesday.

The Ministry of Defense of Artsakh said the total death toll of the Artsakh military reached 772.

According to the Armenian Unified Infocenter, 6309 Azeri troops have been killed in action since the attacks on Artsakh began on September 27.

They added that the Azerbaijani military has lost 200 UAVs, 16 helicopters, 23 warplanes, 576 armored equipment and 4 TOS multiple rocket launchers.

Amid the Azerbaijani ongoing attacks on Artsakh, on October 16, a serviceman of the Azerbaijani armed forces called an Armenian serviceman’s brother and said that they have beheaded him. The Azeri soldier apparently used the mobile phone of the victim. The Azeri soldier told the Armenian serviceman’s brother that they will post the photo of the severed head online. Hours after the call, the man found the photo of his brother’s severed head uploaded on his social media account.

The Human Rights Defender of Armenia Arman Tatoyan received a call certifying the report.

Armenia’s Representative to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Yeghishe Kirakosyan said on October 19 that they will apply to the ECHR over the brutal case.

Iran has decried the “Takfiri” style beheadings after what they described as “worrying” images were released from Nagorno Karabakh conflict.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, “Iran will not accept beheading people like Takfiris or targeting cities and innocent people,” referring to the “worrying images released from Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” IRNA reported.

Khatibzadeh called on both sides of the conflict to ‘be committed to international regulations.’

In addition to the death toll, the infrastructure of the country is in shambles.

According to Artak Beglaryan, the human rights ombudsman of Artsakh, all 217 schools and 60 kindergartens in Artsakh are closed.

Use of Cluster Bombs, Drones

A missile with an internationally prohibited cluster warhead fired by the Azerbaijani armed forces on civilian settlements of Artsakh was discovered near Stepanakert on October 20. More than 260 exploded and unexploded shrapnel bomblets were found.

“The area where the missile was found is of economic significance,” the State Service of Emergency Situations of Artsakh said.  ”Residents here make their living by farming, gardening and beekeeping. There is not a single military facility anywhere nearby,” the service said, adding that the bomb squads will dispose the ordnance.

Azerbaijan has intensified its use of drones against Artsakh and Armenia. However, Iran has also been targeted. A drone crashed in Khoda Afarin, East Azerbaijan Province, northwestern Iran on October 20, IRNA quoted Khoda Afarin governor Ali Amiri as saying.

Amiri told IRNA that the drone crashed in Gara Goch village, Minjavan District. It didn’t cause casualties.

According to IRNA, Iranian military experts are now investigating to which side of the conflict the drone belongs.

Over 60 stray rockets have hit Khoda Afarin since the Azeri attacks on Artsakh began on September 27, according to IRNA.

Earlier in October, an Israeli made Harop loitering munition operated by the Azeri military had similarly crashed into Iranian territory.

On October 20, the Artsakh Defense Army shot down around a dozen of the Turkish Bayraktar drones that have been used in the Azeri attacks since September 27, Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan said.

“However not one of the downed drones had crashed into territories under Defense Army control. But finally we have remnants of the Bayraktar, which clearly shows that the device was manufactured in September, while the modern optics were produced in Canada in June. Why this is important: Turkey’s direct involvement in the terrorist war and its preparations is being proved with concrete facts. And the countries which supply Turkey with required components for Bayraktars should follow Canada’s lead with this fact and freeze further supplies,” Pashinyan said.

Canada has already suspended exports of the military drone technology to Turkey amid its use against Artsakh.

Foreign Minister Talks

Foreign Minister of Armenia Zohrab Mnatsakanyan has been participating in a whirlwind of meetings with his counterparts.

On October 17 he spoke with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Mnatsakanyan praised the personal contribution of French President Emmanuel Macron for the achievement of the agreement on the humanitarian ceasefire which was supposed to have taken place on October 18 and noted that the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan once again refused to fulfill it and continues the large-scale aggression against Artsakh.

Regarding that failed ceasefire, the European Union on October 18 deplored continuing hostilities in and around Nagorno-Karabakh and urged the conflicting parties to respect a fresh ceasefire agreement without any preconditions.

“I have just called the ministers of foreign affairs of Armenia and Azerbaijan to impress upon them that the ceasefire should be unconditional and strictly respected by the two sides,” Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign and security policy chief, said in a statement.

“I have also underlined that attacks on civilians should stop immediately,” he said. “They cannot be justified. I have reiterated that the EU remains ready to support the parties and the OSCE in a long-term solution to the conflict.”

Borrell’s appeal came as deadly fighting continued in the conflict zone despite the supposed entry into force on Saturday night of another Armenian-Azerbaijani ceasefire agreement. The warring sides blamed each other for the truce violations.

Borrell revealed that the agreement was brokered by French President Emmanuel Macron “in coordination with the other OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs,” namely Russia and the United States.

“The EU deplores that, unfortunately, violations continue, with reported fighting in and around Nagorno-Karabakh,” he said. “This leads to more civilian suffering. It aggravates the conflict between States and respective societies, rendering the healing of wounds even more difficult. The population in Nagorno-Karabakh has already experienced excessive suffering.”

The Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers had also reached a truce agreement on October 10 during talks in Moscow mediated by Russia. Fighting along the Karabakh “line of contact” did not stop as a result, however,

Mnatsakanyan on October 19 spoke with UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for European Neighborhood and the Americas Wendy Morton.

The focus of the conversation was on the situation created as a result of the large-scale aggression launched by Azerbaijan’s military-political leadership against Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). Minister Mnatsakanyan called his interlocutor’s attention to several facts about the atrocities of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces against peaceful civilians, the tortures and murders of prisoners of war under their control, constant targeting of civilian settlements and lifeline infrastructures, as well as the shelling of religious and cultural institutions.

Morton expressed her deep condolences on the occasion of the victims among civilians as a result of the hostilities.

Mnatsakanyan also reaffirmed Armenia’s commitment to an exclusively peaceful settlement of the conflict and the establishment of a sustainable ceasefire that will be maintained through verification mechanisms.

Mnatsakanyan is headed to Washington, where he is scheduled to meet with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as is his Azerbaijani counterpart, Jeyhun Bayramov. The latter is going to meet first with Pompeo on Friday morning. Mnatsakanyan, will meet shortly afterward with the U.S. secretary of State.

Armenia’s ambassador in Washington, Varuzhan Nersesyan, praised Pompeo for recently chiding Turkey over its support for Azerbaijan during the conflict.

“We see no alternative to the peaceful resolution of this conflict based on mutual compromises,” Nersesyan said in an interview.

(Armenpress, news.am, RFE/RL and The Hill contributed to this report.)

Get the Mirror-Spectator Weekly in your inbox: