As the death toll mounts for both sides in the war, some legislators in France and the United States are moving to have the independence of the Republic of Artsakh recognized. U.S. Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, tweeted, “The path forward is one of liberty, which is why I am today calling for official U.S. recognition of the Republic of Artsakh’s independence.” Valerie Boyer, Member of the French National Assembly also tweeted that she has asked all groups in the Senate to join her motion for a resolution condemning Azerbaijan and Turkey and recognizing the Republic of Artsakh. She went on to say that lives are at stake as a genocide is taking place and that it is time to act.
Today, Armenian forces shot down a Bayraktar drone, which according to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan proves Turkey’s direct involvement in the war against Artsakh. The Bayraktar drone is manufactured primarily for the Turkish Air Force. The drone was produced in September and its state-of-the-art camera was produced in June by Canada. Pashinyan said that countries that are supplying parts necessary to Turkey for the production of the Bayraktar drone, should follow the example of Canada and suspend further supplies.
During his daily press briefing, Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Defense Army stressed that the situation on the ground is fluid and constantly shifting and there are no fixed contact lines. He said there have been instances when Azerbaijani diversion groups have entered a settlement, taken photos or videos, then quickly retreated to create the illusion that they have taken over those settlements.
Here is a chronology of official updates.
Ombudsman: Mass Destruction and Atrocities Consequence of International Organizations’ Denials to Visit Artsakh
12 a.m.: Armenia’s Human Rights Defender wrote the following on his Facebook page:
“Mass destruction and atrocities committed by Azerbaijani armed forces in Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) are consequences of international and especially human rights organizations’ continuous denials to visit Artsakh, despite numerous calls, invitations from our side. They have to document all these violations by physically being in Artsakh; they have to see and perceive everything in person.
“It is time to prove that the principle “No one should be left behind and no human right ignored” being stated at the highest levels, is not just a nice expression and an illusion, but a principle that protects real people in real life.
“It is time to show that no one has canceled the right of a child to enjoy a happy childhood; a mother’s right to raise her child in peace and the right of grandmothers and grandfathers to enjoy their lives in dignity; that no political reason can affect human rights protection.”
9:30 a.m.: The Artsakh Defense Ministry announced that overnight the situation in the Artsakh-Azerbaijan conflict zone has been tense but stable. Artillery battles continued in some areas. The battles were particularly tense in the southern direction. Defense Army units are in control of the situation and have caused large losses of manpower and military equipment to the Azerbaijani forces.
10:35 a.m.: Shushan Stepanyan, the MoD spokesperson announced that the Azerbaijani side is using aviation and artillery in the northern direction. The battles are tense in the south. The Defense Army units are taking adequate measures to suppress the Azerbaijani side.
Drone Shot Down in Iranian Territory
2:20 p.m.: According to Iran’s IRNA news agency, a drone was downed in the Iranian town of Khoda Afarin. No casualties were reported. This is the second drone to be shot down on Iranian territory since the beginning of the war. Iranian military experts are investigating the incident to determine which side the drone belongs to. According to the news agency, over 60 rockets have hit the town. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said that they have filed an official complaint to Armenia and Azerbaijan and have called on the sides to take necessary security measures, respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iran.
2:30 p.m.: The Artsakh Defense Ministry has released the names of another 43 servicemen killed in battle.
Ayvazyan, Aram [Nveri], b. 1997
Saghatelyan, Artyom [Hamleti], b. 2001
Gevorgyan, Davit [Arseni], b. 2001
Khachatryan, Gagik [Varuzhani], b. 2000
Shashikyan, Tigran [Hapetnaki], b. 2000
Avdalyan, Levon [Roberti], b. 1995
Sahakyan, Sevak [Henriki], b. 2001
Khanumyan, Aram, [Gerasimi], b. 2000
Hakobyan, Levon [Artyomi], b. 2000
Zakaryan, Hrachik [Rubiki], b. 1997
Yerkanyan, Seno [Shahebi], b. 2001
Hakopyan, Sargis [Hakopi], b. 2001
Hovhannisyan, Edmon [Hunani], b, 2001
Davtyan, Grigor [Vardani], b. 2000
Levonyan, Arnold [Rudiki], b. 2000
Vardanyan, Garegin [Gevorgi], b. 2001
Karapetyan, Vahe [Armeni], b. 2001
Gevorkov, Yuri [Nikolayi], b. 1985
Harutyunyan, Rudik [Frunziki], b. 1982
Danielyan, Eduard [Garniki], b. 1983
Manasyan, Arsen [Levi], b. 1999
Papyan, Aram [Hrachiki], b. 1973
Ohanyan, Arman [Mayisiki], b. 1996
Sargsyan, Vachagan [Hayki], b. 1990
Gasparyan, Ruben [Avetiki], b. 1988
Galstyan, Armen [Andraniki], b. 1998
Ohanyan, Yuri [Samsoni], b. 1998
Israelyan, Karen [Zoraviki], b. 1990
Harutyunyan, Davit [Vazgeni], b. 1989
Safaryan, Furman [Valeriki], b. 1978
Hayrapetyan, Karen [Vardgesi], b. 1979
Grigoryan, Armen [Grigori], b. 1992
Tovmasyan, Ogsen [Khachaturi], b. 1979
Babayan, Narek [Ashoti], b. 1996
Stepanyan, Karen [Rubiki], b. 1979
Babayan, Andranik [Manaseri], b. 1986
Gabrielyan, Davit [Mheri], b. 1989
Arshakyan, Hayk [Arami], b. 2001
Saryan, Erik [Artaki], b. 2002
Antonyan, Karapet [Hovhannesi], b. 2000
Avetyan, Razmik [Arseni], b. 2000
Hakobyan, Davit [Armeni], b. 2002
Khachatryan, Arman [Khachaturi], b. 2001
PM Pashinyan: Shooting Down of Bayraktar Drone Proof of Turkey’s Involvement
3 p.m.: Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan wrote the following on his Facebook page:
“During the war, the Artsakh Defense Army shot down about a dozen Bayraktar Turkish drones. None of them, however, fell in areas under the control of the Defense Army.
“It looks like we finally have a piece of Bayraktar. It was produced in September, and the state-of-the-art camera was produced in Canada in June.
“Why is this important? This fact proves Turkey’s direct involvement in the terrorist war against Artsakh and in the planning of this war.
“The countries that supply the components necessary for the manufacturing of the Bayraktar to Turkey, based on this fact, should follow the example of Canada and suspend further supplies.”
3:30 p.m.: Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan wrote on her Facebook page that Azerbaijani forces suffered a large number of casualties in the southern direction of the conflict zone, near the Khoda Afarin reservoir. “We had warned you that you would be entering hell,” she wrote.
3:30 p.m.: “Efforts towards the settlement of the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia continue,” said Demitry Peskov, press secretary of Russian president. “In general, efforts are being taken to stop military clashes and bring the settlement process into a political and diplomatic channel.”
Artsakh President Meets With MPs From Armenia
3:45 p.m.: President of Artsakh Arayik Harutyunyan met with Armenian MPs in Stepanakert and issued the following statement:
“Today, I met with the deputies of the My Step faction, headed by the Speaker of the National Assembly Ararat Mirzoyan.
“We discussed the situation created by the Azerbaijani-Turkish aggression and possible new developments. Both sides stressed the need to resist the challenges to our national unity.”
Azerbaijan Using Banned Weapons Against the Civilian Population of Artsakh
5 p.m.: The following statement was released on the Facebook page of the Armenian Unified Infocenter:
Azerbaijan is using banned weapons against the civilian population of Artsakh.
Not far from Stepanakert, the capital of Artsakh, a cluster bomb used by Azerbaijan was found with more than 260 shrapnel bombs, not all of which have exploded. This goes against all international conventions, which prohibit their use against civilians.
The rocket was found in an area where people engage in animal husbandry, farming, and beekeeping. There are no military structures in the area.
The sapper groups of the rescue forces of the State Service for Emergency Services will destroy the munitions found in pastures and adjacent forests. Armenian and international media representatives currently in Artsakh have covered and reported on the bomb disposal.
5 p.m.: Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan says forcing the Armenians of Artsakh to live under Azerbaijani rule violates international law.
6:15 p.m.: The Kremlin reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron discussing the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Kremlin press service says the sides discussed in detail the developments in the conflict zone, measures aimed at preventing further escalation of the military situation, and the need to resume negotiations as soon as possible to reach a political-diplomatic settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The sides also expressed readiness to continue close coordination between Russia and France as co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, as well as through the UN Security Council.
#Azerbaijan is governed by racist regime that glorifies ethnic violence against #Armenians and implants ethnic hatred into society-confirmed by @ECHR_CEDH @ECRI_CoE #CERD. Forcing Armenians of #Artsakh to live under Azerbaijani rule violates international law. #RecognizeArtsakh
— Nikol Pashinyan (@NikolPashinyan) October 20, 2020
French MP Valerie Boyer Calls for Resolution Recognizing the Republic of Artsakh
8:30 p.m.: Valerie Boyer, Member of the French National Assembly tweeted that she has asked all groups in the Senate to join her motion for a resolution on the condemnation of Azerbaijan and Turkey and the recognition of the Republic of Artsakh. She said that lives are at stake as a genocide is taking place and that it is time to act.
Defense Ministry Live Press Briefing
10 p.m.: During a live press briefing, Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Defense Ministry said from early morning Azerbaijnai forces again launched an offensive in the north as well as in the south. Battles were particularly tense in the south, but Armenian forces managed to push back several of their attacks. Throughout the day, Armenian Air Defense units managed to shoot down several Azerbaijani UAVs, including a Turkish-made Bayraktar drone, produced in September 2020. At the moment, the situation remains tense, military operations are ongoing. Although Hovhannisyan noted that the situation is not as tense as earlier during the day. These military operations have a clear strategy, which Armenian officers and commanders understand very well. He explained that oftentimes subversive groupings of Azerbaijani Armed Forces infiltrate into Armenian settlements (some of which are populated at the moment and some are not) located in proximity to the battlefields, film in those settlements, which later is spread on the Internet as photo ops. He went on to say that such efforts are aimed at influencing the Azerbaijani public, but unfortunately affect Armenians and Armenian media outlets as well. There are many communities and villages that are believed to be under the Azerbaijani control, which in reality is not the case, Hovhannisyan said and urged everyone to not discuss or spread such disinformation on various platforms. He noted that the strategy the Azerbaijani forces are using is very similar to those used by terrorist organizations and mercenaries.
Asked if news of a group of about 150 Armenian soldiers who were saved today is true,
Hovhannisyan said there have been such instances. He said that there was a similar case today and yesterday as well when Armenian forces advance and find Armenian soldiers who have either been lost, or are hiding or have been in captivity but managed to escape. But the news about a group of 100-170 soldiers having been saved is exaggerated, the numbers are less.
The Armenian side has shot down more than a dozen Bayraktars, however, most often they fall in a neutral zone or on the Azerbaijani side. Sometimes we find UAVs that we have shot down much later when we advance territorially.
The battles, as I have said, are mainly in the north and the south, as such we have issues retrieving the bodies of our soldiers in areas where there are shifts in territories. As such we do not have that issue in the center where the contact line has not shifted. Similar shifts happened in the north especially in the first week, the issue is more persistent in the south.
Hovhannisyan once again asked people to remember that this is a fifth generation war where there are no fixed contact lines, where there is no point in losing men to keep the contact line solid when there can also be as many casualties in areas much further away from the active combat line as on the line of contact. Hovhannisyan also said retreat as a tactical step can be often used, something that is often not comprehended as a tactical maneuver by society.
Congresswoman Napolitano Calls for Official U.S. Recognition of the Republic of Artsakh’s Independence
10:45 p.m.: Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, from California’s 32nd Congressional District in the US House of Representatives tweeted: “The path forward is one of liberty, which is why I am today calling for official U.S. recognition of the Republic of Artsakh’s independence.”
PM Meets with Representatives of Extra-Parliamentary Political Forces
PM Nikol Pashinyan hosted the representatives of extra-parliamentary political forces in Yerevan. Pashinyan spoke about the situation following the attack by Azerbaijani-Turkish forces, and the steps and actions undertaken by the Armenian side.
Armenia’s Security Council Holds Extraordinary Meeting
Armenia’s Security Council held an emergency meeting, chaired by PM Nikol Pashinyan.
In addition to Security Council members, the meeting was attended by President of the Republic of Armenia Armen Sarkissian, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Karekin II, My Step parliamentary faction leader Lilit Makunts, head of the Bright Armenia parliamentary faction Edmon Marukyan, Chairman of NA Standing Committee on Foreign Relations Ruben Rubinyan, Chairman of NA Standing Committee on Defense and Security Affairs Andranik Kocharyan, head of the Prosperous Armenia parliamentary faction Arman Abovyan.
During the meeting, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh following the Azerbaijani-Turkish offensive and the steps to counter the aggression were discussed.
UN Security Council Holds a Closed Door on Nagorno Karabakh
At the request of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries Russia, the United States and France, the UN Security Council held a closed-door consultation on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. Following the meeting, the Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya told reporters that ensuring the verification of a ceasefire agreement is the most pressing issue at the moment. The Russian diplomat did not rule out that the verification process could be implemented by the OSCE, which leads the settlement process of the conflict. “Who will be there and in what capacity, who will be actually verifying it – that’s still a question being discussed,” he added.
Russia, which currently holds the Council’s rotating presidency, is working on a statement that would call sides to comply with the ceasefire agreement. It is expected that the text of the statement will be finalized by council members this week and will also call on Armenia and Azerbaijan to resume negotiations facilitated by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.
Iranian Foreign Ministry on Beheading
According to the Iranian IRNA news agency, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said that the worrying images of the conflict in Artsakh are being released and Iran will not accept beheading people like Takfiris or targeting cities and innocent people. Khatibzadeh urged both sides to be committed to international regulations.