YEGHEGNADZOR – Azerbaijani forces launched assaults into the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia, on Tuesday, September 13. According to the Armenian Ministry of Defense, Azerbaijani artillery opened up with a massive artillery barrage just after midnight on Tuesday morning, hitting both military and civilian targets along a long section of the international border. Artillery and combat drone strikes have been reported from Sotk, Vardenis and Kut on the banks of Lake Sevan all the way down to Goris and Kapan, closer to the Iranian border.
Armenian Human Rights Defender Kristinne Grigoryan cited credible evidence that Azerbaijan had targeted civilian infrastructure, including private homes, vehicles and even marked ambulances in settlements near the border area throughout the night. At least three civilians are reported to have suffered injuries. According to the Ministry of Defense, 49 Armenian service members have been confirmed killed in action since hostilities began on Tuesday morning, but this number is expected to rise as fighting continues along the line of contact. Azerbaijan has officially announced 50 KIA, though open source investigations have revealed dozens more.
Armenian sources also claimed that Azeri forces had launched a number of ground assaults on fortified Armenian positions along the line of contact, though it remains unclear if any success was recorded. The Armenian Army published a video showing a large formation of what appear to be Azerbaijani special forces attempting to cross open country unsupported by armor before being gunned down by fire coming from Armenian lines. However, Azerbaijani telegram channels also published footage of dead and wounded Armenians soldiers suggesting that Azeri forces did reach some positions. Armenian officials have avoided commenting on any territorial changes as combat operations are ongoing, but when asked, an MP from the governing Civil Contract party, Gurgen Arsenyan did acknowledge that positions had changed hands, without elaborating.
Tatul Hakobyan, a well-respected journalist reporting from Sotk, in Armenia’s Gegharkunik province said that artillery duels and exchanges of fire were ongoing in the region but that the “Armenian army is holding its ground”. He also urged followers to rally around the Army as it fulfilled its duty. However, Gegharkunik governor Karen Sargsyan was quoted in saying that at least 43 service members had been wounded in his province alone, which seems to have taken the brunt of the fighting throughout the day.
The Azerbaijani Government claims that Tuesday’s attack was a ‘punitive action’ against what it claims were violations of the ceasefire agreement by Armenian forces allegedly placing mines in the occupied Karvajar units. However, the Azeri MOD has not put forward any evidence of this. Analysts have warned over the previous week that Azerbaijan was ramping up for an escalation of the conflict following repeated––and virtually identical––claims that Armenia had fired on Azeri positions over the last week, which were also presented without evidence.