As intense battles continue on the Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh)-Azerbaijan Line of Contact, civilian populations continue to be targeted by Azerbaijani drones and airstrikes. Four civilians were killed in Martakert today, with many more wounded following an airstrike. Armenia’s Foreign Ministry demanded the withdrawal of Turkish F-16s involved in the offensive against Armenian military and civilian infrastructure.
Below is a chronology of official updates, starting from 8:05 a.m. on September 30.
8:05 a.m.: According to MoD Spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan, there is artillery fire along the entire length of the frontline. During the night, two Azerbaijani drones were shot down in Stepanakert, Artsakh.
9:35 a.m.: According to the Armenian Unified Infocenter, military operations continued in all directions of the frontline with more intensive fighting in the northern and northeastern sections. The statement said that Azerbaijani forces failed to tactically improve their positions suffering human losses, including loss of military equipment and weapons. Azerbaijan also targeted civilian populations using missile and artillery systems, combat and reconnaissance UAVs. Two drones were shot down by Armenian forces. Right now military actions are continuing in all directions.
10 a.m.: Vahram Poghosyan, the spokesperson of the President of Artsakh, said that Azerbaijani armed forces registered success only during the first day of fighting. During the following two days, Artsakh’s Defense Army was able to regain control of the majority of the lost military positions. Poghosyan noted that the Armenian Armed Forces successfully pushed back the advancement of the Azerbaijani military, which are working in collaboration with Turkey. He went on to say that Turkey’s Foreign Minister said yesterday that they stand ready to provide more substantial assistance to Azerbaijan. He stressed that Artsakh is ready for military operations but they believe that there is no military solution to the conflict.
10:35 a.m.: According to Shushan Stepanyan, MoD spokesperson, the Azerbaijani air force is carrying out indiscriminate air strikes against the Artsakh Defense Army in the northern direction of the frontline, using Turkish-made UAVs. The Azerbaijani air force is not entering the air space that the Defense Army’s air defense units have control over. Air-to-surface long-range missiles are being used.
Earlier Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the MoD said that the F-16 fighter jets of the Turkish Air Force are being used.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Demands Withdrawal of Turkish Forces From the Conflict Zone
12:10 p.m.: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement regarding the involvement of Turkey’s Armed Forces:
“On the morning of September 29, an Armenian SU-25 fighter jet that was carrying out its mission to repel Azerbaijani attacks on military and civilian installations was shot down by a Turkish F-16 (that was stationed in the Azerbaijani airport in Ganja) in Armenian air space near the town of Vardenis. Major Valeri Danelin, a pilot of the Armed Forces of Armenia, was killed.
“This is not the first provocation by the Turkish air force. Since arriving in Azerbaijan, the Turkish air force has been launching provocative flights along the Artsakh-Azerbaijan Line of Contact and during the assault unleashed by Azerbaijan, it actually provided air support to the combat units of the Azerbaijani army.
“Notably, provocative flights by Turkey have been carried out along the Armenian-Turkish border as well, in certain instances crossing and violating Armenian airspace. On September 27, in the same section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, a Turkish F-16 airplane violated the air space of Armenia and launched missiles in the Vardenis region.
“The Turkish air force appeared in Azerbaijan during the large-scale Turkish-Azerbaijani military drills held from July 29 to August 13 and, since then, have not been withdrawn from Azerbaijan.
“The provocative actions of the Turkish forces seriously undermine regional security and hinder the efforts of the international community to cease the hostilities.
“The international community has called on external actors to refrain from escalating the conflict, and Turkey should heed these calls.
“We strongly condemn Turkey’s provocative actions and demand the immediate withdrawal of the Turkish Armed Forces, including the air force from the conflict zone.”
Live Press Briefing, Artsrun Hovhannisyan and Yeghishe Kirakosyan
12 p.m.: During a press briefing, Artsrun Hovhannisyan of Armenia’s MoD said that fighting along the entire Line of Contact continued overnight. Although the intensity of the fighting was not as severe as yesterday, artillery shelling was still happening in some of the directions. As the Ministry reported early in the morning, large-scale military operations started in the northern direction and the Azerbiajni side used artillery missile attacks. Additional information will be provided as the situation develops. Hovhannisyan stressed that it is important to note that the Azerbaijani side is using long-range military equipment, artillery and UAVs. The Armenian Defense Army units are successfully pushing the adversary back. Hovhannisyan said that the Armenian side has losses and that additional information will be provided about that.
Yeghishe Kirakosyan, Armenia’s Representative to the European Court to Human Rights (ECtHR) spoke about ECtHR’s decision to fulfill Armenia’s request for an interim measure against Azerbaijan. He noted that considering the intensity of the large-scale military operations, it was important to submit the request on behalf of the Armenian Government and that the response of the Court was expected. The Court calls on both Armenia and Azerbaijan to refrain from measures that would violate the rights of the civilian population guaranteed by the European Convention. The decision also says that the sides should notify the Court about the actions they took aimed at guaranteeing the rights of the civilian population. Kirakosyan noted that the text of the ECtHR’s decision was expected and this is the third time in the Court’s history that they have delivered a decision for an interim measure based on the request of a Government (the first two are decisions that the Court made based on the request of the Ukranian Government). He went on to say that the ECtHR decision is a success for the Armenian side since it was made based on the request of the Armenian Government and based on the evidence gathered by the Armenian side. Also, the Court did not think it was necessary to send the request to the Azerbaijani Government for additional evidence or clarifications regarding the situation, which is usually the practice. This comes to show that the evidence submitted by the Armenian side, which included evidence regarding the intentional targeting of civilian infrastructures and population, shelling toward Armenian territories, were more than sufficient.
Kirakosyan, noted that in the coming few days, the Armenian side will provide additional evidence to the Court and present the measures taken by the Armenian Government. He went on to explain that although the decision requires both Armenia and Azerbaijan to take measures, the burden is significantly more on the Azerbaijani Government to provide clarifications regarding its actions. Kirakosyan also said that when a Government submits a request, it also indicates their intention to submit an interstate complaint (this is still being discussed and an interstate complaint is submitted only with a Government decision).
While answering reporters’ questions, Artsrun Hovhannisyan said that there have not been any active military operations in Vardenis after yesterday’s missile strikes by Azerbaijani forces.
The situation in Tavush as well in Nakhijevan is relatively calm. Hovhannysian also talked about the involvement of the Turkish air force in the conflict, stating that the Armenian side has proof of Turkish radio communication and control aircraft flying on the other side of the border and is ready to represent it to international experts.
1:45 p.m.: According to the Armenian Unified Infocenter, Azerbaijan has utilized Turkey F-16 fighter jets in the northeastern and also the southern sections of the front line. At this time, intense battles are taking place along the entire stretch of the Contact Line. In some sections, the Defense Army has registered significant success. The Azerbaijani side has suffered human and material losses.
3 p.m.: According to Artsakh Infocenter, three civilians have been killed in Martakert following an air strike. There are also a number of wounded.
Live Press Briefing of Artsrun Hovhannisyan
7 p.m.: During a press briefing, Artsrun Hovhannisyan of Armenia’s Defense Ministry said that military operations are continuing along the Line of Contact and that according to the Defense Ministry, Azerbaijan handed over the air command of its offensive against Artsakh and Armenia to Turkey. Starting from 10 a.m. coordinated air strikes have been targeting the Armed Forces of Artsakh, civilian settlements of Martuni and Hadrut regions. The operation of F-16 fighter jets of the Turkish Air Force operating from Kurdamir, the SU-25 jets of the Azerbaijani Air Force and Turkish-made Bayraktar UAVs is coordinated by the Turkish E7-T remote air command post, operating inside the territory of Turkey, near Erzerum and Kars. Hovhannisyan went on to say that the information is confirmed by the recording from Armenia’s Joint Air Defense command post.
During the airstrikes in Martuni and Hadrut, civilian populations and infrastructures were also targeted. Hovhannisyan noted that intense battles continued during the day and Azerbaijani forces were pushed back by the Armenian Armed Forces in the northern and southern directions. Based on the latest updates, an additional 130 Azerbaijani servicemen were killed and 200 wounded. The Armenian Armed Forces have also destroyed over 29 tanks and armored vehicles, three TOS heavy artillery systems, one Smerch heavy multiple rocket launcher and eleven UAVs.
French President Emmanuel Macron About Turkey’s Warlike Rhetoric
President of France Emmanuel Macron said that Turkey’s “warlike” rhetoric was encouraging Azerbaijan to reconquer Nagorno-Karabakh, although he added that there was no evidence of direct Turkish involvement. He called Turkey’s statements “inconsiderate and dangerous.” “I say to Armenia and to the Armenians, France will play its role,” he said, adding that it is too soon to speak of a regional conflict. He said he would discuss the tensions with Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump before reporting on the situation to EU leaders.
Human Rights Watch Issues Statement
Human Rights Watch issued a statement: “Armenia/Azerbaijan: Don’t Attack Civilians
Respect Absolute Ban on Targeting Civilians, Civilian Objects”
All armed forces fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh must at all times distinguish between combatants and civilians under international humanitarian law, Human Rights Watch said today. All sides should respect the absolute ban against targeting civilians or carrying out attacks that indiscriminately harm civilians.
Fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh dramatically escalated early September 27, 2020. Armenia and the de-facto authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh characterized the escalation as a “wholescale attack” by Azerbaijani forces. Officials in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital, initially said Azerbaijan was responding to Armenian attack, but provided no further details. They later said that “the fighting for the liberation of territories from occupation continues.” Armenian and Azerbaijani media are reporting continued military operations in districts around Nagorno-Karabakh and along the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
“All sides should remember that attacks targeting civilians are serious violations of international humanitarian law and constitute war crimes,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “This is true even if they are carried out in reprisal for indiscriminate attacks by the adversary.”
There are numerous reports of military and civilian casualties, but these reports could not be independently verified. Azerbaijan reports 10 civilian deaths and 30 civilians injured, but has not released information about military casualties. Nagorno-Karabakh de-facto defense officials report at least 80 military personnel and 5 civilians dead, and about 30 civilians injured.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have declared martial law and partial or full mobilization. Azerbaijan introduced a 9 p.m. curfew and limited internet access on September 27 and 28, including to social media and messaging apps. Both countries have laws restricting reporting about the conflict that is not officially sourced.
All parties should abide by the fundamental principle of international humanitarian law, which requires armed forces to distinguish between combatants and civilians, and between military objects and civilian objects, at all times. It is also forbidden to carry out indiscriminate attacks or attacks that cause damage disproportionate to the anticipated concrete military advantage.
The armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan started in the final years of the Soviet era, when Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic-Armenian majority enclave in Azerbaijan, sought unification with Armenia. Clashes eventually turned into a full-scale war between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops, which ended in 1994 with ethnic Armenian forces taking control of seven Azerbaijani districts around the enclave, creating a security buffer zone around Nagorno-Karabakh and a land connection to Armenia.
Tens of thousands of people have died in fighting and more than a million people have been forced to flee their homes. Azeris fled Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and the adjacent territories, and Armenians fled Azerbaijan. Human Rights Watch documented international human rights and humanitarian law violations by all sides.
Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence in 1991, but it has not been recognized by any United Nations member state or by multilateral organizations. The enclave’s de facto authorities rely heavily on Armenia’s political, economic, and security support.
Since 1994, the Nagorno-Karabakh Line of Contact has separated Armenian and Azerbaijani forces, but no peacekeepers are observing the truce. There have been several smaller flare-ups in the conflict and frequent exchanges of fire, resulting in dozens of casualties every year. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Minsk Group has been mediating conflict resolution since 1992, chaired by France, Russia, and the United States, but without any tangible results.
Nikol Pashinyan Speaks to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Turkey’s Involvement in Hostilities
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has been holding telephone conversations with a number of leaders of foreign states and international organizations. Today, the Prime Minister held a telephone conversation with President Hassan Rouhani of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Iranian President expressed concern over the flare-up between Iran’s two neighboring states and the ongoing hostilities. Nikol Pashinyan referred to the situation in the region and called his interlocutor’s attention to the fact of Turkey’s direct involvement in hostilities. Prime Minister Pashinyan provided some details in this context.
United Nations Security Council Holds Emergency Session
On September 29, the UN Security Council had an emergency session about the recent developments on the Artsakh-Azerbaijani Line of Contact calling on Armenian and Azerbaijani forces to “immediately stop fighting” over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh after three day of intensive fighting.
Following a closed door meeting, the Security Council members expressed concern over reports of large scale military actions along the Line of Contact in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone. They strongly condemn the use of force and regret the loss of life and the toll on the civilian population.
Security Council members voiced support for the call by the Secretary General on the sides to immediately stop fighting, de-escalate tensions and return to meaningful negotiations without delay.
Security Council members expressed their full support for the central role of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and urged the sides to work closely with them for an urgent resumption of dialogue without preconditions.
Armenia Requests Interim Measure from ECHtR
The European Court of Human Rights today received a request for interim measure lodged by Armenia against Azerbaijan, in which the Armenian Government requested the Court to indicate to the Azerbaijani Government, under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court (interim measures), as follows:
– “to cease the military attacks towards the civilian settlements along the entire line of contact of the armed forces of Armenia and Artsakh;
– to stop indiscriminate attacks;
– to stop targeting civilian populations, civilian objects and settlements.”
The request was lodged under application number 42521/20 and is currently being examined.
Under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, the Court may indicate interim measures to any State Party to the European Convention on Human Rights. Interim measures are urgent measures which, according to the Court’s well-established practice, apply only where there is an imminent risk of irreparable harm.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in the International Media
Armenia’s PM Pashinyan has given interviews to a number of global news outlets regarding the Azerbaijani offensive.
On the BBC’s program Newshour, Pashinyan said that Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) and Armenia are facing an existential threat.
In an interview to The Spectator, Pashinyan said: The international community, unfortunately, has a deep misperception of the essence of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It is not about territory. It is about people, about humans, about security. Armenians of NK, who were always the largest majority of Nagorno-Karabakh, wish to exercise their right to freedom, independence, and self-determination.
In an interview to the Russian program 60 Minutes on Russia-1 TV station, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan urged Azerbaijan to stop military actions, he said there is only a diplomatic settlement of this conflict. We can come to a compromise but in order to achieve this there needs to be an adequate atmosphere.
In a telephone interview to the Washington Post, Pashinyan said that Turkey “is creating instability in its neighborhood, in the eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East and now the South Caucasus. It poses an increasing threat to global security.”
Nikol Pashinyan Holds Phone Conversation With Vladimir Putin
Armenia’s Prime Minister provided details to President Vladimir Putin of the developments that followed Azerbaijan’s military aggression. The Russian President expressed serious concern over the ongoing hostilities and stressed the importance of observing the ceasefire and taking steps to de-escalate the situation.
Armenia’s Ombudsman Arman Tatoyan Meets With President Armen Sarkissian
In a Facebook post, Tatoyan wrote:
“We discussed issues related to attacks against civilian settlements and peaceful populations of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) and now today – Armenia. These attacks caused severe casualties and damage, which are in absolute violation of Geneva Conventions and International Humanitarian Customary Law.
“Moreover the attacks are accompanied with massive hate speech and calls for violence towards ethnic Armenians especially in social media.
“During the meeting, I informed the President of the country about our effective cooperation with the Human Rights Defender of Artsakh.”
Special Session of OSCE Permanent Council Held on Nagorno-Karabakh
A special meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on developments in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict context was convened in Vienna today by Albania’s 2020 OSCE Chairmanship. The meeting was attended by representatives of the OSCE’s 57 participating States.
Opening the meeting, Ambassador Igli Hasani, Chair of the Permanent Council, reiterated the Chairmanship’s alarm at the ongoing clashes and deterioration of the situation on the ground. Dismayed by the rising number of casualties, he repeated the OSCE Chairmanship’s call for an immediate de-escalation and offered condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed and injured.
Briefing the Permanent Council, Personal Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, said he was receiving information directly from the ground and local interlocutors at the highest level. Ambassador Kasprzyk said he was in constant communication with the sides, and said his team is ready to resume monitoring on the ground as soon as the situation permits.
Representatives of the Minsk Group Co-Chair countries – France, Russian Federation and the United States of America – reiterated the Co-Chairs’ appeal to all sides to cease hostilities immediately and to resume negotiations to find a sustainable resolution to the conflict.
The Albanian OSCE Chairmanship repeated the importance of a negotiated solution and its support for the work of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs and Ambassador Kasprzyk in their efforts to stabilize the situation on the ground.
Amenians in Javakhk Blocking Turkey-Georgia Interstate Road
Armenians of Javakhk, Georgia blocked the Turkey-Georgia interstate road near the village of Kartsakhi of the Akhalkalaki region, halting the movement of trucks. According to Jnews the participants said that Turkey is supplying Azerbaijan with arms and weapons through the corridor. Ethnic Armenian Member of Georgian parliament Samvel Manukyan and former MP Samvel Petrosyan were on site. Police were also there. The Armenians of Javakhk said that unless the Georgian-Armenian border opens and their assistance and the volunteers are able to reach Armenia they will keep blocking the road. After several hours of protesting, Georgian officials allowed the assistance to pass through the Georgia-Armenia border.
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