With ongoing battles along the entire length of the front line, military positions remained largely intact according to Armenia’s Defense Ministry. A second mercenary captured by the Artsakh Defense Army reveals how they were recruited and sent to fight alongside the Azerbaijani army; says they were offered $2000/month salary, plus a bonus of $100 for each beheading of an “infidel” and told not to leave any Armenians alive.
Here is a chronology of official updates.
10 a.m.: According to Artsakh’s State Service of Emergency Situations, the situation overnight was tense in the city of Martuni and its nearby communities. Azerbaijan’s air force shelled the city, resulting in significant destruction. In the early morning hours, Azerbaijani forces resumed their operations in the direction of Martuni.
At night, the villages of the upper section of the Askeran region were shelled. Azerbaijani forces opened fire on the villages of Avetaranots and Sznek using Grad and Smerch multiple rocket launchers. No casualties have been reported. The scale of the material damage is being clarified.
10:20 a.m.: Multiple explosions rock Stepanakert, air raid sirens are on.
10:30 a.m.: According to the Artsakh Defense Ministry, overnight battles continued in the southwestern, southeastern and northern directions. Azerbaijani forces continued targeting peaceful settlements and shelling the cities of Martuni and Shushi, as well as the village of Karin Tak. Artsakh Defense Army units carried out targeted attacks against Azerbaijani firing positions in those directions. Azerbaijani forces attempted to advance in the direction of Avetaranots and Sghnakh villages using 10 units of military equipment, but after sustaining significant losses were pushed back.
In the morning, Azerbaijani forces resumed their offensive and continued shelling peaceful settlements. The Artsakh Defense Army maintains full control along the entire length of the front line, controls all the movements of the adversary and, if necessary, delivers targeted attacks on its forces.
12:10 p.m.: According to Artsakh’s State Service of Emergency Situations, the situation in Artsakh is relatively stable now. Azerbaijani forces regularly open fire only in the direction of Martuni using different weapons. No casualties have been reported from the shelling in Stepanakert.
Interrogation of Captured Syrian Mercenary
1 p.m.: On October 29, the Artsakh Defense Army captured a mercenary originally from the Syrian city of Hama. His name is Mhrab Muhammad Al Shkhair and he was a member of the Abu Hamshein group, transferred to Azerbaijan through Turkey on October 19. The Investigative Committee published a video of his interrogation.
During the interrogation, Mhrab explains how 250 Syrian nationals were transferred to Azerbaijan through Turkey. He noted that the border guards at the Turkish checkpoint did not ask any questions because they already knew about their transfer and had to let them in. When they were already in Azerbaijan, mercenaries were told that they would fight against Armenians and were instructed to capture the nearest Armenian village and kill everyone there. According to Mhrab, they were promised a $2,000 monthly wage.
Minister of Education, Science and Culture of Artsakh on Damaged Schools and Kindergartens
1:30 p.m.: Lusine Gharakhanyan, the Minister of Education, Science and Culture of the Republic of Artsakh announced that 61 schools and 10 kindergartens were damaged as a result of Azerbaijani aggression and expressed dismay at the indifference of the international community.
2:05 p.m.: The spokesperson of the Defense Ministry, Shushan Stepanyan, said that Artsakh Defense Army units had captured one more Syrian mercenary. Yusuf Alaabet al-Hajji is married with five children. He was born in 1988 in the Idlib district of Syria. He was promised a $2,000 monthly wage for fighting against “infidels” and a $100 bonus for every beheading.
2:35 p.m.: Press Secretary of the Artsakh Ministry of Defense Suren Sarumyan announced that the Azerbaijani side launched offensives along the entire front line last night. The attempts were especially intense in the directions of Martuni and Shushi. According to Sarumyan, in the direction of Martuni, the units of the Defense Army made tactical maneuvers to create more advantageous conditions for fighting on the front line, which is a part of the strategy.
Sarumyan said that the Defense Army predicted the possible actions of Azerbaijani forces toward the second direction and destroyed their columns and manpower at the same place. As Sarumyan noted, “Azeris can call this place Hell’s Gorge from now on because they had a lot of losses and their plans completely failed.” Sarumyan added that the units of the Defense Army confidently stand on their positions, controlling the operative-tactical situation and are ready to stop all the attacks by the Azerbaijani side.
Civilian Settlements Continue to Be Targeted
3:17 p.m.: According to the Armenian Unified Infocenter, Azerbaijan continued to shell civilian settlements throughout the day. The town of Martuni and nearby villages were bombed through air strikes. There are no reported casualties and the scope of damage is being clarified. Azerbaijan also bombed Shushi, using mainly Grad and Smerch multiple rocket launchers. The Gohar Agha Mosque in Shushi was damaged.
Military aviation was used in Martakert. No casualties among the civilian population were reported. Several explosions were also heard in Stepanakert, but again no casualties were confirmed. During the day, the air raid sirens went off seven times.
3:30 p.m.: The Armenian Unified Infocenter announced that the Air Defense Units of the Defense Army shot down another Azerbaijani combat UAV near Stepanakert.
6:17 p.m.: Vahram Poghosyan, the spokesperson of Artsakh’s President, announced that news being disseminated by Azerbaijani media that a convoy that included Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan had been hit was false. Poghosyan said that the President is alive and well and continues to fulfill his responsibilities as President.
6:40 p.m.: According to the Artsakh Defense Army, the Air Defense Units have shot down two Azerbaijani combat UAVs near Stepanakert.
7:10 p.m.: According to Artsakh’s Ombudsman, a fire engine transporting drinking water from the town of Askeran to civilians in neighboring communities was targeted.
9:30 p.m.: Armenia’s Ombudsman Arman Tatoyan wrote the following on his Facebook Page:
“Feasts, surveys, polls encouraging killings and cruel treatment of Armenians are organized in Azerbaijani social media, then happiness and pride spread for committed atrocities; other forms of hatred toward Armenians is largely encouraged. Armenia’s Human Rights Defender’s Office obtained evidence confirming all the mentioned facts.
“For example, a photo of a beheaded body is posted in this Azerbaijani social network channel claiming that this is an Armenian soldier and a poll is organized with exceptional cynicism and intention of incitement to hatred. This is clearly confirmed by the attachments to this statement (the original poll and its translation).
“The Human Rights Defender’s Office of Armenia has duly documented all these publications and will send them to relevant international bodies.”
Defense Ministry Live Press Briefing
10 p.m.: During a live press briefing, Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Defense Ministry said that Azerbaijani Armed Forces along with the terrorist groups continued their offensive from the early morning in different directions of the front line. They mostly operated in small groups. In some of the areas, artillery was used; in others air forces were also employed. Although military operations continued, important changes in military positions have not been registered. Battles are ongoing. Hovhannisyan reminded that the Defense Army units captured a second mercenary, who also confessed that Syrian mercenaries are actively involved in military operations against Armenians. Hovhannisyan noted that, although Azerbaijan and Turkey continue denying the recruitment and involvement of mercenaries in the conflict, the Armenian side is very well aware of the instructions they receive and how they are being used by Azerbaijan. Hovhannisyan stressed that the involvement of mercenaries in the operations on the front line shows that the Azerbaijani ground forces have sustained significant losses and the mercenaries are their only hope.
While answering reporters questions Artsrun Hovhannisyan reaffirmed that Azerbaijani forces used phosphorus munitions again and continue to use the same ammunition in different directions. Hovhannisyan went on to say that the Armenian side understands the role of Turkey’s involvement, as well as the visits of Turkish high-ranking military and political officials to Baku. He once again noted that, since Azerbaijani forces are under the command of Turkish military forces and Turkey’s General Staff, referring to them as only “Azerbaijani forces” is not encompassing enough. According to Hovhannisyan, after the disgraceful actions of Azerbaijani military forces in Tavush in July 2020 during the short-term military operations, Turkey started to act and took control of Azerbaijan’s Armed Forces.
#Azerbaijan deliberately targeted a fire engine, transporting drinking water from the town of #Askeran to civilians in neighboring communities. No casualties reported.
Once again Aze intentionally targets people with humanitarian functions. #StopAzerbaijaniAgression pic.twitter.com/FLqDcmTaiy
— Artsakh / Karabakh Human Rights Ombudsman (@ArtsakhOmbuds) November 1, 2020
@OmbudsArmenia obtained proofs confirming that feasts, surveys, polls encouraging killings & cruel treatment of #Armenians are organized in #Azerbaijani social media, then feast & pride spread for committed atrocities; other forms of hatred towards Arm. are largely encouraged. pic.twitter.com/m2i4Vxuc7z
— Arman Tatoyan (@atatoyan) November 1, 2020
Statement by the Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General on Armenia and Azerbaijan
The United Nations Secretary-General fully supports the call of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, as agreed in Moscow on 10 October, and confirmed subsequently in Paris on 17 October and in Washington on 25 October. The call is contained in the statement issued today by the Co-Chairs at the end of their meetings in Geneva with the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The Secretary-General remains deeply concerned by reports of continuing hostilities, which continue to affect civilians. He condemns all such attacks and reiterates that both sides have the obligation, under international humanitarian law, to take utmost care to spare and protect civilians and civilian infrastructure in the conduct of military operations.
The Secretary-General calls on the sides to implement, in good faith and on an urgent basis, the concrete steps they agreed to take through the facilitation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, as well as their previous commitments. He urges the sides to continue engaging in a substantive dialogue and to intensify their efforts with the facilitation of the Co-Chairs to reach a peaceful and sustainable settlement of the conflict.