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First day of clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan

27 September 2020
An image purportedly showing the shelling of Stepanakert. Image via Armenpress.

Civilian casualties have been reported on both sides as Azerbaijani military forces stage a military action across ‘the entire line of contact’ in Nagorno-Karabakh.  

Update: For the latest live updates click here.

Nagorno-Karabakh’s Human Rights Defender Artak Beglaryan has reported that two civilians had been killed.  Meanwhile, videos purportedly showing the shelling of Stepanakert and surrounding areas have spread on social media in Armenia. 

The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence has reported that civilians have been killed and wounded as a result of shelling by Armenian forces in a number of villages along the line of contact — they have not released any specific numbers.

The Azerbaijani government has also limited internet access throughout the country in order to prevent ‘provocations’. ‘We hope that the citizens of Azerbaijan will show understanding in connection with the restrictions’, a statement by the Communication Ministry reads.

Azerbaijan said they had deployed tanks and artillery units as part of the offensive. On Sunday morning, they confirmed that a helicopter had been shot down.

Nagorno-Karabakh President Arayik Harutyunyan has declared a full-scale military mobilization and martial law throughout Nagorno-Karabakh.

Increased tensions

The escalation comes at a time of increased tensions. On Monday, the Azerbaijani State service for Mobilisation and Conscription announced that soldiers and officers in the reserves had been called for military training and inspection, and unspecified ‘special gatherings’.

Azerbaijani authorities also impounded a number of civilian pickup trucks for military use.

[Read more: Azerbaijan calls on reservists and confiscates cars after ‘provocation’.]

On Thursday, the US embassies in Armenia and Azerbaijan issued security warnings. The embassy in Baku urged for US citizens not to travel outside of the Absheron Peninsula.

This story will be updated as it develops. 

 For ease of reading, we choose not to use qualifiers such as ‘de facto’, ‘unrecognised’, or ‘partially recognised’ when discussing institutions or political positions within Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia. This does not imply a position on their status.

27 Sep 2020, 21:25

Unless any major developments occur, we are ending our live-coverage for today. We will be back with more updates tomorrow morning. 

27 Sep 2020, 20:46

Azerbaijan reports five civilian deaths

The General Prosecutor’s Office has told Azerbaijani news outlet Report.az that five civilians from a single family have been killed in the Naftalan District of Azerbaijan ‘as a result of artillery fire by the Armenian armed forces against the civilian population’.

The Prosecutor’s Office earlier reported that 14 civilians had been injured since the beginning of the escalation.

27 Sep 2020, 20:29

Azerbaijani government websites offline

The websites of several Azerbaijani government agencies including the Ministry of Defence, Interior Ministry, Foreign Ministry, Mobilisation and Conscription Service, and the General Prosecutor’s Office are currently offline.

27 Sep 2020, 20:23

Azerbaijan claims to take ‘artillery control’ of Vardenis-Martakert (Aghdara) highway

Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defence has stated that they have taken ‘visual control, as well as firearm and artillery control’ over the Vardenis-Martakert (Aghdara) highway connecting Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.

27 Sep 2020, 19:47

News.am hacked

A photo of the fake article. Image via armiya.az.

The major Armenian news website news.am was hacked earlier today. The website published a fake article which falsely claimed that Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called on Armenians to flee Nagorno-Karabakh. 

The false report was widely cited by Azerbaijani news organisations. 

27 Sep 2020, 19:24

Nikol Pashinyan has telephone exchange with Vladimir Putin

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has had a conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh. 

According to the Kremlin’s official Press Service, Putin ‘expressed serious concern over the resumption of large-scale armed clashes. It was noted that now it is important to take all the necessary efforts to prevent further escalation of the confrontation, and most importantly, it is necessary to stop military operations.’

27 Sep 2020, 18:51

Armenian PM calls on international community to prevent Turkish intervention

In a television address delivered earlier today, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called on the OSCE Minsk Group, as well as the international community, to understand the ‘seriousness of the situation’ claiming that an outbreak of a large-scale war in the region can spill over and threaten international security and stability.

He also urged them to prevent a possible intervention by Turkey which could ‘have devastating consequences for the South Caucasus and the wider region’.

 

27 Sep 2020, 18:36

Armenia reports losses

Armenian defence ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan has announced that the Armenian side has suffered 16 deaths and over a hundred injuries, citing Nagorno-Karabakh’s Deputy Defence Minister Artur Sargsyan.

Azerbaijan has so far remained silent on their losses.

27 Sep 2020, 18:18

Internet reportedly restored in Azerbaijan

There have been several reports from Azerbaijanis on social media that the internet has been restored.

27 Sep 2020, 18:00

Azerbaijan declares martial law 

Azerbaijan’s Parliament accepted a decree by President Ilham Aliyev declaring martial law in several cities and districts, Report.az writes

According to news agency Trend, a curfew will be in force in Baku, Ganja, Goygol, Yevlakh and ‘in a number of other cities’. 

27 Sep 2020, 17:55

Azerbaijani opposition parties praise the army

Opposition parties in Azerbaijan have reacted to the clashes with messages of support for the armed forces.  The Musavat and Popular Front Party stated that they stood with the army. 

The leader of the ReAl party, Ilgar Mammadov, praised President Ilham Aliyev saying that they support ‘not only the words, but also the actions’ of Aliyev on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. 

‘It needs to be continued. Shusha must be liberated, it can never be an Armenian city’, he said. 

27 Sep 2020, 17:18

‘A well-prepared attack’

Olesya Vartanyan, a senior South Caucasus analyst at the International Crisis Group has said the escalation appeared to have been planned in advance by Azerbaijan,

‘Unlike in July 2020, this is clearly a well-prepared attack, which can turn into a bigger escalation than in April 2016’, she tweeted on Sunday morning.

‘The attack was coming. There were numerous signals, all saw them and did nothing for weeks. There was a need for a pro-active international mediation. Many found reasons to OK this attack. If they stay silent now, expect a real war.’

27 Sep 2020, 16:01

Erdogan promises to support Azerbaijan ‘with all means’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his support to Azerbaijan saying that Turkey ‘stands with its Azerbaijani brothers with all its means, as always’. 

Earlier he called on ‘all the world’ to ‘stand by Azerbaijan’. 

 

27 Sep 2020, 15:19

OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs urge Azerbaijan and Armenia to ‘immediately resume negotiations’

The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, Stephane Visconti of France, and Andrew Schofer of the United States of America) condemned the use of force and regretted ‘the senseless loss of life, including civilians’. 

‘The Co-Chairs appeal to the sides to cease hostilities immediately and to resume negotiations to find a sustainable resolution of the conflict. The Co-Chairs call on the sides to take all necessary measures to stabilize the situation on the ground and reiterate that there is no alternative to a peaceful negotiated solution of the conflict’, the statement reads.

27 Sep 2020, 15:12

'Azerbaijani Armed Forces didn’t take any settlement' 

Samvel Babayan, Secretary of the Security Council of Nagorno-Karabakh, has denied Azerbaijani claims that they have taken control of villages. He called the earlier statement by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence 'disinformation'. 

27 Sep 2020, 14:36

Azerbaijani authorities claim to have captured several villages

Anar Eyvazov, a spokesperson for Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defence, told Report.az that Azerbaijani Armed forces have taken control of several villages in Nagorno-Karabakh. 

Eyvazov listed the villages as: ‘Garakhanbeyli , Garvand , Kand Horadiz , Yukhari Abdurrahmanli , Boyuk Marjanli , Nuzgar'.  

Assistant to the President Hikmat Hajiyev told Azerbaijani Trend News Agency that ‘there are already real results, a number of strategic heights, a number of territories, villages have been liberated from occupation’.

(15:57 - since the publication of this update: Azerbaijani authorities have claimed to have seized a seventh village: Ashaghi Abdurrahmanli)

27 Sep 2020, 14:22

‘Georgia is ready to contribute to de-escalation and establish peace in the region’

Georgia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement calling on the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and the international community to make every effort to stop the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh and ensure a resumption of constructive dialogue.

‘We are watching with concern another military escalation between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which reportedly already resulted in casualties and damage to infrastructure. We hope that a ceasefire agreement will be reached’, the statement reads. 

‘On our part, we declare that Georgia is ready to contribute to de-escalation and establish peace in the region in any way.’

27 Sep 2020, 14:09

Turkey promises to ‘fully support’ Azerbaijan

Hami Aksoy, a spokesperson for Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Azerbaijani news agency APA that ‘during this period’ Turkey ‘will fully support Azerbaijan’. 

27 Sep 2020, 13:13

Georgian President: ‘Very concerned’ about fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh

Georgia’s President, Salome Zurabishvili, calls for an end to fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh.   

27 Sep 2020, 13:02

Nagorno-Karabakh authorities: 10 Armenian service members killed 

Secretary of Nagorno-Karabakh’s Defence Council Samvel Babyan has announced that 10 Armenian service members have been killed during the fighting this morning. 

27 Sep 2020, 12:45

Armenia declares martial law and military mobilization

Now by the decision of the government, martial law and a general military mobilization is announced in the Republic of Armenia’, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan wrote on Facebook. 

27 Sep 2020, 11:52

Russia calls for end to fighting

Russian authorities have called for an immediate end to the hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh. 

It is necessary to move everything to the negotiating table, the fighting must cease.’ Vladimir Dzhabarov, first deputy chairman of the Federation Council's international affairs committee, told RIA Novosti.

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