The Stepanakert Maternity Hospital

Situation More Serious: Update for October 29

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STEPANAKERT/YEREVAN (Panarmenan.net) — The Azerbaijani army is making gains, Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan warned on October 29, adding that they are only five kilometers from Shushi.

“The main goal of the enemy is to take over Shushi. As they say, whoever rules Shushi, rules Artsakh. And I want us to realize this moment not only in words, but to directly participate in the defense of Shushi,” Harutyunyan said in his address Thursday.

According to him, a breakthrough must be made on the front and the enemy must be punished at the gate of Shushi.

“Now they are threatening our homeland and existence not only along the entire frontline, but have invested serious military resources to attack Shushi, aiming to take possession of the proud Armenian fortress at all costs,” the Karabakh leader said calling on everyone to join and defend Karabakh and the nation’s dignity.

Stepanakert has come under steady fire. Armenian Health Minister Arsen Torosyan published pictures from the maternity hospital of Stepanakert, which came under Azerbaijan’s rocket attack on Wednesday, October 28.

Azerbaijan is using Smerch multiple rocket launchers to fire on the city.

Stepanakert Maternity Hospital

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Bodies Returned

The bodies of 29 Armenian servicemen killed in Azerbaijan’s aggression against Nagorno-Karabakh were returned to the Armenian side thanks to the mediation of Russia, with the participation of the field team of the ICRC and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Armenian Defense Ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan said on Thursday, October 29.

Stepanyan added that in addition, one civilian returned to Armenia thanks to the efforts of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

“The Armenian side, meanwhile, is once again expressing readiness to return the bodies of Azeri soldiers left in the territory of Artsakh to the Azerbaijani side, begin the process of evacuating the bodies from the Artsakh-Azerbaijani front and the transfer of information about the prisoners of war for exchanging them later,” Stepanyan said.

Azerbaijan, with help from Turkey and Syrian and Libyan mercenaries deployed by Ankara, started a war against Karabakh (Artsakh) in the morning of September 27. The Armenian side has reported deaths and injuries both among the civilian population and the military. Foreign and local journalists too have been injured in Azeri shelling of towns and villages.

As of October 29, the Armenian side reported the deaths of 1,119 servicemen since the start of the conflict, with the average age of the victims 20.

Stepanakert Maternity Hospital

Ongoing Diplomacy

Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan will be meeting the co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group in Geneva on Friday, October 30, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anna Naghdalyan has revealed.

The meeting was supposed to take place on Thursday but was pushed back one day “due to situational and logistical circumstances”, the spokesperson added.

Naghdalyan told a briefing on Thursday evening that the cessation of hostilities is a priority for the Armenian side.

“The priority for us is the establishment of ceasefire and the introduction of verification mechanisms. That’s the agenda we are taking to Geneva,” Naghdalyan said.

Currently, the process of the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is being mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group, which is co-chaired by France, Russia and the United States.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that it is necessary to find a balance of interests between Armenia and Azerbaijan in order to reach a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

“How can a long-term settlement be reached? In finding a balance of interests that would suit both sides – both the Azerbaijani people, for whom we have unwavering respect, and the interests of the Armenian people and the government of Armenia,” told the forum “Russia Calling” on Thursday, October 29.

Arayik Harutyunyan

Putin reminded that the conflict began with ethnic clashes: “The then leadership of the Soviet Union did not take any effective measures to ensure the safety of the people. The Armenians took up arms and did it themselves.”

This led to the fact that Nagorno-Karabakh itself and seven other regions of Azerbaijan went under the control of Armenia, Putin said. He added that now Azerbaijan insists on its right to return seven regions that he said are not related to the ethnic conflict, and further understand the fate of Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Everyone has their own truth,” the Russian leader said. “There are no easy solutions here.”

Putin stressed that Russia’s position has not changed: “We proceeded from the fact that we need to talk about the possibility of transferring five plus two regions to Azerbaijan with the provision of a certain regime of the Karabakh zone, its interaction with Armenia,” he explained.

US Embassy Travel Advisory

The US Embassy in Yerevan has added three Armenian provinces – Ararat, Vayots Dzor, and Syunik – in its list of places that American citizens are urged to avoid traveling to, amid hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“The US Embassy in Armenia urges US citizens to exercise caution when traveling within Armenia. The US Embassy has instructed Embassy employees and their families not to travel to the areas listed below and urges US citizens to avoid travel to: Tavush province east of the M4 and M16 Highways north of the Dilijan National Park and up to the border with Georgia; Gegharkunik province east and south of Lake Sevan and east of the M10 Highway; All of Ararat, Vayots Dzor, and Syunik provinces,” the mission said Thursday, October 29.

“Military confrontations continue in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Do not travel to the Nagorno-Karabakh region.”

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