It’s now been a week since Azerbaijani forces launched a large-scale offensive along the Artsakh-Azerbaijan Line of Contact. Not since the end of the first Karabakh War has fighting been so intense and the geography so widespread. Villages, towns and cities and civilian infrastructure have been targeted resulting in civilian casualties. The capital, Stepanakert has been hit the hardest with significant damage to vital infrastructure and today, the city of Shushi was also targeted. Artsakh’s Human Rights Defender issued an urgent call to the international community about the impact on the peaceful population and war crimes being committed in Artsakh by the Azerbaijani military.
Artsakh’s President Arayik Harutyunyan issued an ominous warning in the morning, stating that as the “terrorist army of Azerbaijan continues to target the civilian population of Stepanakert, using Polonez and Smerch multiple rocket launching systems, military facilities permanently located in major cities of Azerbaijan are now targets of the Defense Army.” He called on Azerbaijanis to leave these cities as soon as possible to avoid possible losses.
Not long after, the President’s spokesperson announced that the military airport in Ganja, Azerbaijan had been destroyed. A few hours later, President Harutyunyan said that he had instructed the Defense Army to stop the shelling in order to avoid civilian casualties. “If the enemy does not draw proper conclusions, we will continue to strike proportionately and vigorously, dismantling the enemy army,” he said.
After returning from the front lines, President Arayik Harutyunyan spoke to the nation in a video address. He called on Armenians everywhere to unite and rally around the authorities in Artsakh and Armenia. “This is a holy war, a patriotic war. I want us to continue to be this unified first of all to help those who have been evacuated, those in need,” he said. A full [unofficial] translation of his address below.
Military operations along the entire length of the Artsakh-Azerbaijan Line of Contact are continuing with unrelenting battles taking place in the north and south.
Here is a chronology of official updates.
Artsakh President Issues Warning to Azerbaijani Leadership
12:45 a.m. In the early morning hours of October 4, President of Artsakh Arayik Harutyunyan issued the following statement:
“I continue to remain on the front line and stand next to our heroic boys. They are carrying out feats on the journey to secure the protection of the Homeland for all our families.
“At the same time, I am carrying out the operative management of the Republic through the established mechanisms.
Today, after heavy fighting, the Defense Army has improved its position and prepared the ground for further advancement.
“Under pressure on the front line, Azerbaijan has begun to strike harder at our peaceful settlements, using long-range missiles. These war crimes will receive their adequate response and in this regard, we are warning the Azerbaijani leadership for the last time…
“We will win and we will punish the criminals who threaten our existence.”
8:15 a.m.: According to Ministry of Defense (MoD) Spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan, there is shooting along the Artsakh front line with low-intensity artillery fire in some parts.
Azerbaijani Forces Preparing for New Offensive
9 a.m.: According to the Armenian Unified Center: “The situation on the Artsakh-Azerbaijan Line of Contact overnight was tense but relatively calm. The southern direction was particularly tense. Intelligence of the adversary’s operations has indicated that they are preparing for an offensive. The Defense Army is following their movements and is ready to resolutely suppress all operations.”
Azerbaijani Forces Strike Stepanakert
10:20 a.m.: Artsakh’s Ombudsman Artak Beglaryan tweeted that Azerbaijani forces shelled Stepanakert again this morning with several heavy missiles targeting important civilian infrastructures similar to last night’s strikes. No data on casualties yet.
President of Artsakh: Military Facilities in Major Cities of Azerbaijan Now Targets
10:43 a.m.: Artsakh’s President Arayik Harutyunyan wrote the following on his Facebook page:
“Despite numerous warnings, the terrorist army of Azerbaijan continues to target the civilian population of Stepanakert, using Polonez and Smerch multiple rocket launching systems.
“Military facilities permanently located in major cities of Azerbaijan are now targets of the Defense Army. I call on the people of Azerbaijan to leave these cities as soon as possible to avoid possible losses.
“Total responsibility of this lies with the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan.”
Military Airport in Ganja Destroyed by Armenian Military
10:50 a.m.: Artsakh’s President’s Spokesperson Vahram Poghosyan announced that the military airport in Ganja, Azerbaijan was destroyed.
10:56 a.m.: Azerbaijani Defense Ministry tweeted that Azerbaijani city of Ganja had come under fire by the Armenian Armed Forces.
Azerbaijan Not Being Shelled From the Territory of Armenia
11 a.m.: Shushan Stepanyan, Defense Ministry spokesperson said that the Ministry of Defense officially states that Azerbaijan is not being shelled from the territory of the Republic of Armenia.
11:30 a.m.: Shushan Stepanyan, MoD Spokesperson announced that Azerbaijani forces continue to shell civilian settlements, including the capital Stepanakert with banned weapons.
“The Artsakh Defense Army is now carrying out heavy strikes on key military facilities located deep inside Azerbaijan. Total responsibility for increasing the escalation on the battlefield lies with the Azerbaijan side,” said Stepanyan.
Armenia’s Foreign Ministry Statement on the Conflict Zone
Armenia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on the recent developments on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone:
“Azerbaijan, together with Turkey, and with massive involvement of foreign mercenaries transferred from the Middle East, continues large-scale military hostilities against the Republic of Artsakh.
“The cities of Stepanakert and Martakert are attacked with the use of long-range missiles and the involvement of the air force.
“The deliberate targeting of the civilian population and infrastructure of Artsakh by the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan is a gross violation of the international humanitarian law, and the latter will bear full responsibility for this war crime.”
12:00 p.m.: Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Ministry of Defense announced that Stepanakert continues to be shelled. Reports of civilian infrastructure being destroyed, civilian injuries.
12:40 p.m.: Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Ministry of Defense said that battles continue in the northern direction of the Line of Contact. As of 12 p.m. the Artsakh Defense Army units shot down three Azerbaijani planes and two tanks.
President of Artsakh Calls for Cessation of Shelling to Avoid Civilian Casualties
12:55 p.m.: President of Artsakh, Arayik Harutyunyan issued the following statement:
“Today, the Defense Army fired several rockets to neutralize the military facilities located in Ganja. At this point, I have instructed to stop the shelling to avoid civilian casualties.
“If the enemy does not draw proper conclusions, we will continue to strike proportionately and vigorously, dismantling the enemy army.
“We are determined in our actions till the end.
“Stop until it is not too late.”
1:15 p.m.: According to the Armenian Unified Center, Armenia’s Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan said that allegations by the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan that civilian settlements in Azerbaijan are being shelled from the territory of the Republic of Armenia are false. “If Stepanakert, Martuni, Hadrut and other settlements are acceptable theaters for Azerbaijani military operations, then our defense army’s professional units will respond categorically and it will be horrific for Azerbaijan,” he said.
President of Artsakh Addresses the Nation [Unofficial Translation]
1:30 p.m.: President of Artsakh Arayik Harutyunyan spoke to the nation in the following video address:
I want all of you to be courageous and determined, and victory will be guaranteed.
First of all, a little about why I went to the frontline. There is nothing to be concerned about and we should inspire our officers and soldiers, who, every day are in a life and death struggle against the adversary. I am proud to say that the Defense Army is fulfilling its task from commanders to soldiers standing on the Line of Contact. I am proud to say that we have the most professional army in the world, not the one with the best military equipment or the strongest, but the most professional one. I bow before our soldiers, I want to say “Ձեր ցավը տանեմ,” [let me take your pain] you are the pride of our nation. You endanger your life on the Line of the Contact, you struggle for every centimeter of land. Our officers are accomplishing miracles, endangering their lives and disregarding death and that is what we need. We should all be ready to die and I will continue encouraging our soldiers and officers.
Today, by my decree, five more servicemen were awarded the title of the Hero of Artsakh. And I want to mention their names and tell you about their heroic acts. Davit Grigoryan, who has been actively participating in military operations since September 27, 2020, managed to strike fifteen tanks and one rear combat vehicle. He continues serving our country on the Line of Contact. Edgar Markosyan, shot down ten tanks in the direction of Talish, firmly protecting his position. Yura Alaverdyan, managed to strike nine tanks and one armored vehicle. All three are soldiers, glory to our soldiers. I want to say again “Ձեր ցավը տանեմ” [let me take your pain]. General Shaqaryan, who is one of the pioneers of the Artsakh Liberation War, organized numerous attacks on the tanks and rear of the adversary, causing significant losses. Mr. Shaqaryan the entire nation respects you, your heroism will be celebrated by the entire nation, you are a real Hero of Artsakh. Davit Ghazaryan, who unfortunately will be awarded the title posthumously, led battles based on the principle of not a single step back, which is a real act of heroism.
My condolences to all of us but I’m also proud that we have compatriots like Davit Vanik Ghazaryan. Of course the state will continue to appreciate and reward our compatriots’ heroism. Glory to all, all are heroes. For several days, the adversary has been shelling not only civilian settlements but also Stepanakert with Smerch, Polonez and other modern long-range missile systems. Every second, different types of UAVs are flying over Stepanakert and continue shelling the city. And today, according to my command, for the first time the units of the Defense Army have shelled the city of Ganja. I’ve mentioned that before, I have issued warnings. I regret that we hit our adversary’s permanent military locations in our historical Gandzak, Ganja, Kirovabad. We struck them because they forced us. Come to your senses, come to your senses because we will continue to strike other cities and if necessary bigger cities. That was a warning. By the way, I commanded to stop missile and artillery strikes on big cities and to give the adversary time. Keep peaceful civilians away. I want to announce that I have already given that command: to stop missile and artillery strikes on big settlements. You started this war and you broke humanitarian laws targeting civilian populations. You have time, think. We will continue until the end, until the last person, until the last soldier – we are ready to die. It’s not possible to win in that situation.
I want to address my compatriots in the Diaspora and Armenia. This is a holy war, a patriotic war. I want us to continue to be this unified first of all to help those who have been evacuated, those in need. I want us to unify around the authorities because today, the role of Armenia and Artsakh authorities is important as never before. Their role is decisive, they bear huge responsibility. I want you to continue to support Armenia and Artsakh’s authorities. I want all of us to fight against Azerbaijan but not Azerbaijanis. I want Armenians to understand that the Azerbaijani people are captives of a dictatorial regime and Turkey and they struggle because of the fake geopolitical motives and the desire for power of those authorities. They struggle because the peaceful population has to deal with the consequences of everything. That’s why the people of Azerbaijan will also be aggravated in the hands of their government and Turkey. That’s why all of us together, throughout the world, shall fight against the Azerbaijani government. And you know the path of that fight. To fight in a civilized way in this stage. I’ve mentioned before that Aliyev’s family is responsible for everything and will be held accountable. I want to thank all of you dear compatriots for your unity and I want all of us, at the cost of our lives, to be ready to defend our land, our homeland, and the future of our generations. With no doubts, victory will be ours.
Armenia’s Government Submits Request With ECHtR to Apply Interim Measures Against Turkey
4 p.m.: Today, early in the morning the Government of the Republic of Armenia submitted a request with the European Court of Human Rights on applying interim measures against Turkey.
“In particular, having regard to the diverse assistance of Turkey to Azerbaijani attacks against the civilian population and objects of the Republic of Artsakh and the Republic of Armenia, in gross violation of international humanitarian law and the European Convention on Human Rights, the Government of the Republic of Armenia on behalf of the Republic of Artsakh and on its own behalf has submitted a request with the European Court on applying interim measures envisaged by Rule 39 of the Rules of Court against Turkey.”
Civilian Infrastructure Targeted in Shushi
5:30 p.m.: According to Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Ministry of Defense, civilian infrastructure in the city of Shushi has been targeted.
5:50 p.m.: Artak Beglaryan, the Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Artsakh issued a call upon the international community, presenting war crimes being perpetrated by Azerbaijan against the Artsakh civilian population.
6:20 p.m.: Artsakh’s Foreign Ministry tweeted that following Azerbaijani shelling, there are civilian casualties in Shushi and the capital Stepanakert.
President of Artsakh Appeals to Minorities Living in Azerbaijan
6:50 p.m.: President of Artsakh Arayik Harutyunyan wrote the following on his Facebook page:
“Dear Talysh and Lezgi brothers and sisters!
“We are closely following the internal political developments in Azerbaijan, in particular, the growing protests in Talysh and Lezgin populated cities and villages of Azerbaijan, where the population is boycotting Aliyev’s order to join the army and fight against Artsakh and Armenia.
“Hundreds of victims reported among the Lezgin and Talysh population provoked the protests.
“The modus operandi of the Azerbaijani political clan to use them as a living target and get rid of them in this way has not changed for decades.
“We value the deep understanding of our cause by the native people of Azerbaijan, the Talysh and Lezgins, as well as your constant manifestation of sympathy.
“I want to assure that we stand by the legitimate struggle of the Talysh and Lezgin people. We are ready to contribute by all possible means to the ultimate goal of your struggle – gaining independence.
“The Defense Army, as a sign of our good will, will not target the adversary military facilities located in Talyshstan and Lezgistan.”
Defense Ministry Urges People to Refrain From Discussing Military Operations
7:40 p.m.: Armenian Unified infocenter issued the following statement:
Armenia’s Defense Ministry urges all citizens of the Republic of Armenia to refrain from discussing military operations on their phones. Such discussions pose a real danger to the effectiveness of the Defense Army’s actions that is superbly performing its military tasks. During phone conversations, it is possible to unintentionally convey useful information to the adversary, which they can use while planning their actions against our forces. We urge you to realize the importance of the issue and not endanger the course of the victorious war willingly or unwillingly.
8 p.m.: Shushan Stepanyan, MoD Spokesperson said that military operations are continuing along the entire length of the Artsakh-Azerbaijan Line of Contact. Unrelenting battles are taking place in the northern and southern directions in particular, Stepanyan said adding that while Azerbaijani forces are constantly attempting to launch fresh attacks, they are being pushed back by the units of the Defense Army.
Artsrun Hovhannisyan Live Briefing on Front Line Situation and Disinformation Campaign
9 p.m.: During a live press briefing, Artsrun Hovhannisyan of Armenia’s MoD, said that at the moment battles continue in the same directions (northern and southern) along the Line of Contact. Although the situation was less intense compared to the previous two days, Azerbaijan continued initiating new attacks, which were pushed back by the Artsakh Defense Army. Hovhannisyan noted that Azerbaijan again suffered significant human and equipment losses, including 400 killed and 700 wounded servicemen, 13 armored vehicles, 3 airplanes and one UAV.
Hovhannisyan said that today’s military operations were accompanied by large-scale disinformation campaigns, spread by the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan, including the President and the Vice President. Starting from yesterday, Azerbaijanis were congratulating each other for taking control of Mataghis but today the Defense Army published a video showing how Azerbaijani soldiers are running away from the area surrounding Mataghis. Similar disinformation was spread today as well and the Azerbaijani side started claiming that they had taken control of Jabrayil. Hovhannisyan noted that if the Azerbaijani side “liberated” Mataghis as they claim, then why is Aliyev not going there? This leaves the impression that Aliyev is in an information blockade in his own country and he is trying to disguise the losses of his Armed Forces by spreading cheap disinformation. Following today’s shelling of a military airport in Ganja (historical Armenian territory Gandzak), we have seen how Aliyev does not care about his own citizens, Hovhannisyan said. Although active military operations are ongoing for a week now, the Azerbaijani leadership has not taken any actions to guarantee the safety and security of the civilian population of a large city. After targeting the civilian population of Artsakh for a week now and being well aware that the Artsakh Defense Army may respond and target key military facilities of Azerbaijan (President of Artsakh warned about this earlier during the day), the Azerbaijani side took zero actions.
Today, the armed forces of Azerbaijan have not been able to register any military successes on the battlefield and have been pushed back, because all of the efforts by the Turkish armed forces were neutralized thanks to the operations of our air defense units and other units. Turkish drones, in particular, were not able to be put into action today and for that reason, their losses have been greater, their advancement much less and their retreat greater.
Answering a reporter’s question about whether Yerevan and surrounding towns are in danger of an attack, Hovhannisyan said he doesn’t think that Yerevan is in danger, but was quick to add that we are in a war.