Armenia and Azerbaijan are blaming each other for strikes against civilians in the intense fighting for control of the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Azerbaijan accused Armenia of targeting the Barda region with rockets, killing four civilians, including a two-year-old girl, and wounding 13 others. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry called the attack “another war crime committed by Armenia in recent days in gross violation of the agreed humanitarian ceasefire.”
On the other hand, the Armenian military accused Azerbaijani forces of firing at Armenian border guards on the country’s southern border with Iran. Azerbaijan retorted characterizing the Armenian accusation as “false and provocative.” The Armenians answered their accusation as “an absolute lie and a dirty provocation.”
Meanwhile, Azerbaijani forces are now at the edge of the strategic city of Shushi. The city is considered the “unassailable mountain fortress.” Armenians have an old saying that, “whoever controls the city of Shushi controls the whole of Nagorno-Karabakh.” Light Azerbaijani infantry is now taking up positions right outside the city.
On November 4, Armenian forces said that they had defeated an Azerbaijani assault on a village road leading from below the cliffs of Shushi to the high ground just a few kilometers west of the city.
Shushan Stepanyan, the press secretary of the Armenian Defense Ministry claimed that Armenians have been much more successful at shooting down drones and that they downed four in the space of 90 minutes. This is reportedly happening with Russian assistance. She also posted a video of an encircled and eliminated Azerbaijani unit.
— Shushan Stepanyan (@ShStepanyan) November 6, 2020
The latest American-brokered ceasefire fell apart early this week, just like the two previous Russian negotiated ceasefires had. Each side is blaming the other for the resumption of the bloody fighting.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke individually with both Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian on Tuesday. He urged them to “abide by their commitments to cease hostilities and pursue a diplomatic solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.” The State Department is emphasizing that “there is no military solution to this conflict.”
With the Azerbaijanis reaching the outskirts of Shushi, the Armenian army has shut down the strategic Goris-Stepanakert highway to all non-military traffic. Control of the highway is very important to both sides. If Azerbaijani forces can secure it and advance to the high ground above Shushi, they will cut off Nagorno-Karabakh’s southern supply route from Armenia. The importance of the supply route is reflected in its Armenian epithet: “the Road of Life.”
The Armenian forces have taken a terrific beating by the drones that Azerbaijan has been employing with the assistance of the Turkish military. A third-party site @Oryx posted on Twitter that according to video footage the Armenian military has lost:
- 257 armored vehicles including 173 T-72 tanks, 64 of which were captured
- 147 artillery pieces
- 67 rocket launchers
- 23 SAMs (Surface-to-air missile launchers)
- 14 Radars/Jammers
In comparison, the Azerbaijani forces have lost around 30 tanks.
However, the introduction of Syrian mercenaries by Turkey on the side of Azerbaijan may push Russia to become actively involved. The Russian Federation has publicly reiterated its commitment to ensuring Armenia’s territorial sovereignty in the event of a foreign attack.
Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned that Azerbaijan’s importation of Syrian jihadists risked turning parts of the Caucasus into a “terrorist enclave,” which Russia would not tolerate.