Azerbaijani Armed Forces attempted a large-scale offensive in the northwestern direction of the front line late last night but were pushed back by Armenian forces. Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Defense Ministry noted that the Armenian side has been able to improve its military positions along certain sections of the front line, but lost two positions near the town of Martuni. Hovhannisyan also said that the dynamics and intensity of Azerbaijani military operations and attacks has increased over the last ten days.
According to Artsakh’s State Service of Emergency Situations, Azerbaijani forces are using incendiary munitions in the forests of almost all the regions of Artsakh, causing irreparable damage to flora and fauna. The head of the village of Nngi in the Martuni region said that, for the third day now, community-owned forests—more than 150 hectares—are burning.
Also today, it came to light that Artsakh’s Deputy Defense Minister Artur Sargsyan was killed in battle.
Here is a chronology of official updates.
10:40 a.m.: According to Artsakh Defense Ministry, battles of varying intensity took place overnight on the Artsakh-Azerbaijan front line. Defense Army units have detected and neutralized several Azerbaijani units trying to advance in certain directions. The adversary continued shelling peaceful settlements with artillery.
Azerbaijani forces tried to place armored vehicles near the front line in the southeastern direction. Following the actions of the Defense Army units, one Azerbaijani tank was destroyed and the rest were pushed back.
Currently, the operative-tactical situation is under the control of Artsakh Defense Army.
Women of Artsakh Protest in Front of the U.S. Embassy
11 a.m.: The women of Artsakh, refugees forced to flee the war, are in front of the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan, protesting, trying to raise awareness of the plight of the people of Artsakh, demanding the U.S. stop sending military aid to Azerbaijan and demanding the recognition of Artsakh. This is what one of the organizers said:
“During the past ten days, I have been to Stepanakert again. What I have seen is more than the devastation we left behind. Our cities are more wounded, are filled with more pain and have been destroyed even more. I have been to shelters and have seen mothers waiting for their sons, mothers who haven’t heard from their sons for ten days and have shriveled even more from the pain. But their eyes are filled with hope that everything will be alright. I have also seen soldiers who have buried their brothers and returned to the battlefield the next day, with the belief that we will destroy those terrorists.
“I have come here to say that I do not expect that the U.S. will take any steps. I have come here to say that if those terrorists are not destroyed in Artsakh, their “seeds” will come out of Artsakh and travel to Russia, Georgia, Europe and of course the U.S. We will destroy the enemy. Our brothers and fathers will do that. But you will reap the fruits. Shame on you for letting all of this to happen.”
Artsakh President Meets With Freedom Fighters
12:45 p.m.: President of Artsakh Arayik Harutyunyan met with the freedom fighters of volunteer troops named after legendary commanders of the first Karabakh War, Vladimir Balayan and Shahen Meghryan.
Harutyunyan noted that today the children and relatives of those heroes are fighting against the army armored with the most modern weapons in the world. He stressed that Armenian forces are fighting against Turkey, Azerbaijan and mercenaries from a number of countries. It is thanks to the troops named after Balayan that there is now more evidence proving that Armenian forces are fighting against mercenaries, while the troops named after Meghryan, for a few days now, have been fighting against Azerbaijani and Turkish special forces, near the villages of Sghnakh and Avetaranots.
He noted that the 10 million-strong Armenian nation is watching all of them. “We have a special mission and we have to complete it with honor,” added Harutyunyan.Some of the volunteer freedom fighters were awarded by the President of Artsakh.
2:20 p.m.: Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in a Facebook post that Azerbaijan, with a population of 10 million and huge oil revenues, admitted after July 2020 that it is unable to solve its security problems on its own and turned to thousands of mercenaries for help. The Armenian side has comprehensive evidence about their involvement.
The involvement of mercenaries and terrorists in the aggression against Artsakh is not only a threat to Artsakh and Armenia, but also to international security, and this issue should be a subject of international investigation.
Intense Battles in Artsakh’s Northwest
2:35 p.m.: The Artsakh Defense Army announced that, on November 1 from 8:30 p.m. to 11:40 p.m., intense battles took place in the northwestern part of the Artsakh-Azerbaijan front line.
Azerbaijani forces launched attacks against two key positions of the Artsakh Defense Army, which were repelled in pitched battles in the no-man’s land between the two opposing forces. According to the announcement, the Azerbaijani side retreated after suffering significant losses. Armenian forces, however, blocked their retreat in one of the gorges, completely destroying the Azerbaijani side using mortar fire.
An Azerbaijani platoon launched another attack towards the same direction, which was also suspended by the Defense Army.
The operative tactical situation on this part of the front line is completely under the control of the Defense Army units.
2:49 p.m.: According to the Armenian Unified Infocenter, on the night of November 1 and during the day on November 2, Azerbaijani forces continued shelling the settlements of Artsakh. The situation is especially tense in the cities of Martuni and Martakert, as well as in the surrounding settlements. Besides shelling peaceful settlements with Grad and Smerch multiple rocket launchers, Azerbaijan is also utilizing its air force. No casualties have been reported. The situation is relatively calm in other settlements.
Armenia’s Government Submits Additional Evidence to ECtHR
2:50 p.m.: The Armenian Government has submitted additional evidence to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) about the gross violations of human rights by Azerbaijani forces.
The Government has expressed its readiness to comply with the humanitarian ceasefire agreements reached by the parties of the armed conflict earlier in October with the purpose of exchanging POWs and corpses.
Bearing in mind the imminent risk and threat to the lives of the POWs, the Government asked the Court to apply the following measures against the Government of Azerbaijan as a contracting party to the Convention:
1. To comply with its obligations under the Convention, as well as the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, and all applicable rules of customary international humanitarian law, in particular, among other things, to refrain from;
a. degrading treatment, torture, arbitrary executions, as well as other prohibited conduct with respect to prisoners of war and civilian persons who find themselves under the authority of Azerbaijani agents,
b. mutilating corpses of Armenian soldiers;
2. To submit information on the number and names of the POWs and conditions under which POWs are currently held, details about their medical condition, and whether they have been examined by medical personnel.
Forests Continue to Burn
4 p.m.: According to the NKR InfoCenter, Head of the Nngi community of the Martuni region said that it is already the third day that the community-owned forests are being burned because of the use of white phosphorus munitions by the Azerbaijani forces. The area covers more than 150 hectares. Nngi and the surrounding areas are being targeted by the adversary. No casualties have been reported following today’s shelling.
4:22 p.m. The Artsakh Defense Ministry has published the names of another 11 Armenian servicemen killed in battle.
Sargsyan, Artur [Sargisi], b. 1975
Yakovlev, Davit [Armani], b. 2001
Shaqaryan, Sergey [Slavi], b. 1974
Virabyan, Tigran [Alberti], b. 1977
Mikayelyan, Artyom [Tigrani], b. 1997
Atanesyan, Artak [Volodyayi], b. 1985 (reservist)
Ghazaryan, Azat [Vahani], b. 2000
Javakhyan, Gevorg [Grigori], b. 2001
Mkhitaryan, Vahe [Armenia], b. 2001
Baghdasaryan, Aram [Arseni], b. 2002
Nalbandyan, Benyamin [Garniki], b. 2001
5:30 p.m.: According to the Artsakh Defense Ministry, Deputy Defense Minister of Artsakh Artur Sargsyan has been killed on the battlefield.
Village in Armenia Proper Targeted, One Civilian Killed
7:40 p.m.: Today, at around 6:10 p.m., Azerbaijani forces fired artillery shells at the positions of Armenia’s Armed Forces in the village of Davit Bek, northwest of Kapan in the Republic of Armenia. One civilian was killed; two others are wounded.
France to Ban Turkish Grey Wolves
8 p.m.: According to Reuters, France plans to ban the Turkish far-right nationalist group Grey Wolves. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said that the ban will be submitted to the French Cabinet on November 4, 2020 as part of France’s fight against Islamist militants. “The ban follows recent incidents in France involving the Grey Wolves group amid growing tensions between France and Turkey and over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In one incident last weekend, France 3 television reported that the Armenian memorial near Lyon was tagged with pro-Turkish slogans and inscriptions with the Grey Wolves’ name.”
9 p.m.: According to Artsakh’s State Service of Emergency Situations (SSES), aside from targeting peaceful settlements, Azerbaijani forces are using incendiary munitions in the forests of almost all the regions of Artsakh. Firefighters of the SSES are trying to put the fires out, but the destruction continues to remain dire. On top of the humanitarian crisis, Azerbaijan is now adding an ecological disaster by causing significant damage to Artsakh’s fauna and flora.
#Azerbaijan deliberately burns forests in #Artsakh (already at least 1815 ha). These war crimes undermine environmental security in the whole region and contain long-term dangerous consequences for the life and health of the people of Artsakh. #StopAzerbaijaniAggression pic.twitter.com/3LAyFiBxbs
— Artsakh / Karabakh Human Rights Ombudsman (@ArtsakhOmbuds) November 2, 2020
Defense Ministry Live Press Briefing
10 p.m.: In a live press briefing, Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Defense Ministry said that overnight, Azerbaijani Armed Forces attempted to launch several large-scale offensives along the entire length of the northwestern direction of the front. All those attempts were pushed back by Armenian forces. A number of Azerbaijani units were trapped and were completely neutralized by artillery fire. Hovhannisyan noted that, since 7 a.m., Azerbaijani forces tried to launch attacks in other directions of the front line, specifically in the direction of Martakert in the north, in the direction of Martuni toward the center and in different directions in the south. All of the attempts of the adversary were pushed back. In some of the cases, Armenian forces managed to register changes in the military positions. Hovhannisyan said that the adversary took control of one or two positions in the south from Martuni, in the direction of Chartar. To conclude, all the attempted attacks launched by the Azerbaijani forces have failed. The adversary mainly used its air forces and some of the civilian settlements came under Azerbaijani shelling. At around 6 p.m., Azerbaijani forces fired artillery shells at the positions of Armenia’s Armed Forces in the village of Davit Bek in the Republic of Armenia. One civilian was killed and two others were wounded. The situation is under the control of the Armenian forces and all the movements of the Azerbaijani forces are registered and targeted by artillery. Battles continue.
While answering reporters’ questions, Artsrun Hovhannisyan said that initiatives regarding the exchange of POWs are ongoing but the Azerbaijani side does not have any inclination to start the process, and unfortunately those initiatives cannot be undertaken. He went on to say that the bodies of mercenaries, Azerbaijani servicemen and servicemen of special forces continue to remain in front of Armenian military positions for more than 20 days and are creating serious problems. “We try to solve that issue to prevent an epidemic and I’m sure that we will succeed in this regard. However, the bodies still remain like that because the Azerbaijani side does not adhere to the ceasefire regime and they do not care about their losses,” Hovhannisyan said. He also noted that, during a military operation near Hadrut today, Azerbaijani forces were pushed back and left behind about 15-16 bodies.
Artsrun Hovhannisyan once again emphasized that the dynamics of military operations and attacks by the Azerbaijanis has increased during the recent ten days.
Hovhannisyan also said that he cannot give information about the death of Deputy Defense Minister of Artsakh Artur Sargsyan and it is not right to discuss the details of the death of such high-ranking military officials.
Norway to Provide €1.5 Million in Humanitarian Aid to People Affected by Artsakh War
On November 2, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway announced that the country will provide €1.5 million to humanitarian organizations to provide aid to those who have been affected by the recent war in Artsakh. Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide said that Norway expects parties to respect humanitarian law and facilitate humanitarian organizations to have safe access to those affected by the situation.
According to the announcement, Norway will support children in the first place through partnership with Save the Children. The support aims to ensure that vulnerable children have access to emergency items such as warm clothes and psychosocial support in Goris in Armenia. The announcement also stated that Norway is in dialogue with the Norwegian Red Cross about possible support for the Red Cross and Red Crescent’s humanitarian work in affected areas.
Norway will also respond to the appeal of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as well as the HALO Trust organization, which works toward the protection of civilians from landmines and other explosives. The minister also urged the parties to adhere to the ceasefire regime and resume substantial negotiations. “Norway supports the international work of the OSCE Minsk Group for a peaceful solution,” Søreide said.
Michelle Bachelet Warns of Possible War Crimes
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet today expressed alarm at continuing indiscriminate attacks on populated areas in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, in contravention of international humanitarian law, and warned they may amount to war crimes.
“Since the conflict reignited in September with the terrible consequences we are now seeing, there have been repeated calls, including by myself, for the parties to take all feasible steps to avoid, or at the very least minimize, the loss of civilian life and damage to civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals – as well as to distinguish civilians from combatants, and civilian objects from military objectives,” Bachelet said.
“Instead, homes have been destroyed, streets reduced to rubble, and people forced to flee or seek safety in basements,” she added.
“International humanitarian law cannot be clearer. Attacks carried out in violation of the principle of distinction or the principle of proportionality may amount to war crimes, and the parties to the conflict are obliged to effectively, promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigate such violations and to prosecute those alleged to have committed them,” the High Commissioner stressed.
“Such attacks must stop and those responsible for carrying them out, or ordering them, must be held to account.”
Despite an agreement reached on Friday by Armenia and Azerbaijan to refrain from deliberately targeting civilian populations, artillery strikes against populated areas were reported over the weekend. The central market in Stepanakert/Khankendi in Nagorno-Karabakh was reported to have been hit. And Azerbaijani sources said the city of Tartar, which is some 20 km from the front line, had been hit by artillery strikes.
According to the Azerbaijani government, since late September, at least 91 civilians have been killed in areas under its control. The Armenian government has reported that 45 civilians have been killed in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, and two in Armenia. Several hundred people, including dozens of children, have been injured. The UN Human Rights Office has not been able to independently verify these figures.
The biggest single loss of life was on October 28, when 21 people were reported killed and 70 others injured in a rocket attack on the Azerbaijani town of Barda, located some 30 km from the area of active hostilities. The rockets, allegedly fired by Armenian forces from Nagorno-Karabakh, reportedly carried cluster munitions. Due to their effects, the use of cluster munitions in populated areas would be incompatible with the international humanitarian law principles governing the conduct of hostilities.
“Amid deeply troubling reports that cluster munitions have been used by both parties, I call once again on Armenia and Azerbaijan to stop using them, and to join the more than 100 States that have ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions which comprehensively bans their use,” the High Commissioner said.
The government of Azerbaijan has indicated that some 40,000 people have been temporarily displaced by the latest fighting. According to the Armenian Foreign Minister, some 90,000 ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh have fled the current hostilities and are currently in Armenia.
“I urge the parties involved to depoliticize the issue of providing human rights and humanitarian access to all areas affected by the conflict – including by my teams to the relevant areas – so there can be effective monitoring of the human rights situation on the ground,” she said.
Bachelet also expressed serious concern about videos that have emerged which appear to show war crimes being committed. While many faked images have been circulating on social media, in-depth investigations by media organisations into videos that appeared to show Azerbaijani troops summarily executing two captured Armenians in military uniforms uncovered compelling and deeply disturbing information.
Under international humanitarian law, the wilful killing of protected persons constitutes a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and therefore constitutes a war crime. Only a competent court can determine whether a war crime in a specific instance has been committed and rule on such an issue.
Amid the hostilities, the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase, with new reported cases on November 1 totalling 2,441 in Armenia and 1,175 in Azerbaijan. No updated information is available concerning the COVID-19 situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.
“The outbreak of hostilities clearly poses a direct threat to public health with already limited resources diverted from combatting a health emergency to waging a long-standing conflict. The fighting is also strikingly in opposition to the UN Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire amid the pandemic,” Bachelet said.
“I call once again on all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, abiding by the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution and avoiding the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas,” the High Commissioner stressed.
“As the loss of life continues and the suffering of civilians deepens, I appeal again for an immediate halt in the fighting and urge all parties to abide by a humanitarian ceasefire and engage in negotiations to find a peaceful and durable solution to this conflict that has wrought so much destruction in the region,” Bachelet said.
UN Human Rights Chief @mbachelet is alarmed at continuing indiscriminate attacks in populated areas in and around the #NagornoKarabakh conflict zone, in contravention of international humanitarian law, and warns they may amount to war crimes.
Read 👉 https://t.co/YTyYM5mv8C pic.twitter.com/LYtkdBczjE
— UN Human Rights (@UNHumanRights) November 2, 2020
Statement by the Foreign Ministry of Armenia Regarding the Deployment of Foreign Terrorist Fighters in the Region by Turkey and Azerbaijan
On November 1, the military units of the Artsakh Defense Army captured a second terrorist fighter who had taken part on the Azerbaijani side in the military hostilities against Artsakh. He introduced himself as Yusuf Alaabet al-Hajji, a resident of the village of Ziyadiya in the Jisr al-Shughur region of the Idlib province of Syria. It should be noted that another terrorist fighter was captured by the Artsakh Defense Army earlier on October 30, introducing himself as Mehrab Muhammad Al-Shkheir from the Syrian city of Hama.
The Armenian side has repeatedly spoken out about the recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters and jihadists by Turkey from various “hot spots” in the Middle East, particularly from Libya and the areas under its control in Syria, and their subsequent transfer and deployment to the region with the purpose of committing atrocities against the people of Artsakh. This fact is not merely confirmed by the intelligence services of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries, a number of our partners and the international community, but also by the direct testimonies of the terrorists themselves.
In their testimonies these terrorists provided detailed information about their recruitment process, the expected monthly payment for fighting against “kafirs” (infidels), the extra payment for the each beheaded “infidel,” as well as about their envisaged terroristic plans. The transfer of jihadists to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone reveals the intentions of the Turkish-Azerbaijani leadership to give the conflict an inter-religious character.
This is a completely new manifestation of the expansion of terrorism, when foreign terrorist fighters and jihadists from the Middle East have been deployed to the conflict zone in the OSCE area; it is a serious threat to international and regional security and stability.
Armenia will continue to undertake consistent steps in the fight against international terrorism, cooperating with all interested partners.