As a result of the “anti-terrorist measures” launched by Azerbaijan on Tuesday, September 19, seven civilians were killed and 35 people were injured in Nagorno-Karabakh. The death of the mayor of the city of Martuni Aznavour Saghyan was also reported.
According to the Ombudsman of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Gegham Stepanyan, as of 03:00, among the civilian population there were 35 victims: 13 children, 15 women and seven men. Death toll among the civilian population reached seven people, including three women, two children and two men.
As a result of the “anti-terrorism measures” launched by Azerbaijan, the mayor of the city of Martuni, Aznavour Saghyan, was killed. This information was confirmed to Radio Azatutyun by Gegham Stepanyan. Sources of 24News.am stated that Saghyan died during the battles of Martuni.
Besides, according to the Ombudsman unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, at about 5:00 an ambulance from the Stepanakert morgue, which was sent to the Martakert region to transport eight bodies, was fired upon by the Azerbaijani armed forces. Stepanyan claims that the ambulance driver was injured and does not have the opportunity to evacuate the bodies to Stepanakert.
The Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan, in turn, refutes the information disseminated in the Armenian media about the shelling of ambulances by the Azerbaijani armed forces. “We categorically refute the information disseminated with the aim of creating a wrong opinion in the international community,” the ministry said.
The Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan announces that another of its citizens was injured “as a result of shelling by the Armenian Armed Forces.” According to the department, the victim is 31-year-old excavator operator Mehman Hasanov, who was carrying out restoration work in the Agdam region. According to Azerbaijani authorities, the man received multiple shrapnel wounds. A criminal case has been opened.
Ombudsman of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Gegham Stepanyan also reports that as a result of the high-voltage power grid in the Martakert region from 14:30 on September 19, “the entire population of Artsakh” no power supply. According to the Ombudsman, more than 7 thousand people were evacuated from 16 communities of Askeran, Martakert, Martuni, and Shusha regions of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Advisor to the head of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Hakob Ipjyan tweeted photos from Stepanakert (Khankendi):
Fighting along the contact line continues, reports the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army (a military structure in the unrecognized republic). According to her, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces continue to use artillery and missiles.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a telephone call to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, expressed concern about the situation, called for a ceasefire and said that Washington supports direct dialogue between Baku and representatives of the Armenian population of Karabakh.
The President of Azerbaijan responded by emphasizing that Baku has launched “anti-terrorism measures” in the region to “prevent provocative and inflammatory actions of the Armenian side.” According to him, representatives of the Armenian population of Karabakh were invited several times to dialogue to discuss issues of reintegration, but they refused. Aliyev said that “anti-terrorist measures” will be stopped when “the Armenian side lays down its arms.”
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for an immediate ceasefire in Karabakh and for the implementation of the 2020 agreements. The Russian Foreign Ministry also called for an immediate cessation of hostilities. “The main thing now is to urgently return to the implementation of the set of trilateral agreements at the highest level for 2020-2022,” the department said.
The fate of the Karabakh settlement was radically influenced by Yerevan’s recognition of Karabakh as part of the territory of Azerbaijan, noted in Moscow. “This changed the fundamental conditions under which the trilateral statement of November 9, 2020 was signed, as well as the position of the Russian peacekeeping contingent,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Baku supports the normalization of relations with Yerevan, but Armenia must also fulfill its obligations, Assistant to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Hikmet Hajiyev said in an interview with Al-Jazeera TV channel. “They must withdraw all military forces from the territories of Azerbaijan, and also stop financing the illegal puppet regime,” he emphasized.
Meanwhile, as a result of clashes between police and protesters near the government building on Republic Square in Yerevan, 34 people were injured, the Armenian Ministry of Health said. Among them are 16 police officers and 18 civilians.
On the afternoon of September 19, Azerbaijan announced the start of “anti-terrorism measures” in the areas of Nagorno-Karabakh that are populated by ethnic Armenians. The Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army (a military structure operating in the unrecognized “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic”) reported that on September 19 at around 11:10 am, Azerbaijani armed forces violated the ceasefire in the Askeran region by using a mortar.
Immediately after Baku’s statement, residents of the Armenian regions of Karabakh began reporting heavy artillery shelling.
The National Security Service of Azerbaijan states that the operation began after the Karabakh military allegedly committed sabotage on the 58th kilometer of the Akhmedbeyli-Fuzuli-Shushi highway the day before, planting an anti-tank mine in the area. As a result of its explosion on September 19 at about 03:45, two civilians were killed. In addition, Baku claims the death of four Azerbaijani police officers who tried to get to the “scene of terrorism.”
The Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army said it regards Baku’s statements “as another piece of disinformation.” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that Azerbaijan’s goal is to involve Armenia in a military operation, and Azerbaijan has launched an operation aimed at subjecting the population of Nagorno-Karabakh to ethnic cleansing. However, according to him, the Republic of Armenia is not involved in hostilities and Armenia “does not have an army in Nagorno-Karabakh.” Representatives of the Armenian Ministry of Defense made the same statement.
The territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh has been going on since the late 1980s. The Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, populated mainly by ethnic Armenians, with the support of Armenia, declared secession from the Azerbaijan SSR, and in September 1991 announced the creation of the “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic”.
During the armed conflict of 1988–1994, 30 thousand people died in the separatist region. Nagorno-Karabakh and several adjacent regions of Azerbaijan came under the de facto control of the Armenian armed forces. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people, mostly ethnic Azerbaijanis, became refugees and internally displaced persons.
The “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic” is not officially recognized by any UN country, including Armenia. In 1993, the UN adopted four resolutions demanding the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the Karabakh region and recognition of the territory as part of Azerbaijan.
After another escalation of the situation at the end of September 2020, Azerbaijan returned to its control the areas around Nagorno-Karabakh and took the ancient and symbolically significant city of Shusha (Shushi in Armenian). The day after the capture of Shushi, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a ceasefire statement in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Under the terms of the agreement, Armenia and Azerbaijan are assigned the territories where troops were located at the time the document was signed. A Russian peacekeeping mission is stationed along the contact line.
After this, Azerbaijan began a blockade of areas of Karabakh populated by ethnic Armenians: checkpoints were set up on the only road that did not allow any cargo, including food and humanitarian aid, to enter the region. Residents of Armenian areas of Karabakh have reported hunger in recent weeks.