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Live updates: Day 34 of Nagorno-Karabakh fighting

30 October 2020

Fighting is continuing for the 34th day over Nagorno-Karabakh, despite a third ceasefire being agreed.

[The news as it happened: 27 September, 28 September, 29 September, 30 September, 1 October, 2 October, 3 October, 4 October, 5 October, 6 October, 7 October, 8 October, 9 October, 10 October, 11 October, 12 October, 13 October, 14 October, 15 October, 16 October, 17 October, 18 October, 19 October, 20 October, 21 October, 22 October, 23 October, 24 October, 25 October, 26 October, October 27, October 28, October 29]

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 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.

30 Oct 2020, 20:08

Handcuffed bodies geolocated to Zangilan

An image initially posted on Telegram, that apparently showed the bodies of Armenian soldiers, four of whom were handcuffed, has been geolocated to Azerbaijan-controlled territory in Zangilan (Kovsakan). 

The geolocation was carried out by BBC journalists Benjamin Strick and Grigor Atanesian. 

30 Oct 2020, 19:55

Robert Kocharyan tests positive for COVID-19

Armenian ex-President Robert Kocharyan, who had been planning to go to Moscow together with ex-President Levon Ter-Petrosyan, in order to discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with the ‘Russian elite’ has tested positive for COVID-19. As such, he will not be departing Armenia. 

30 Oct 2020, 18:11

Armenia’s first two presidents propose to visit Moscow to meet with ‘Russian elite’

Nikol Pashinyan's spokesperson Mane Gevorgyan has said that Armenia’s former presidents, Levon Ter-Petrosyan and Robert Kocharyan, have informed the Armenian Prime Minister about their desire to visit Moscow to discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with the ‘Russian elite’ and to offer ‘concrete solutions’ that may result from these discussions. 

Pashinyan has reportedly said that he ‘cannot be an obstacle’ for Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh and so ‘agreed with the proposal’. 

For the moment, the two former Presidents are still in Armenia. 

30 Oct 2020, 17:04

Armenia claims Azerbaijan’s first attempt to attack Shusha were pushed back

In an interview with Azatutyun, Davit Babayan, adviser to Nagorno-Karabakh President Arayik Harutyunyan, said that yesterday Azerbaijan had accumulated a large number of forces and equipment and prepared for their first attack on the town of Shusha (Shushi). According to Babayan, the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army, along with civilian militia, were able to stop the attack.

The Armenian Unified Infocentre announced today that Azerbaijani ‘saboteurs’ in several villages east of the village of Qarintak were pushed back.

Qarintak is located 3 km away from Shusha.

30 Oct 2020, 17:00

In Georgia’s Samtskhe-Javakheti, war and coronavirus have overshadowed the election

The election campaign in Georgia’s Samtskhe-Javakheti Region has been practically on hold since late September, when war broke out in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Samtskhe-Javakheti, in southern Georgia, has a significant ethnic-Armenian population.

Georgian’s go to the polls tomorrow in parliamentary elections.

Read the full story: In Georgia’s Samtskhe-Javakheti, war and coronavirus have overshadowed the election.

30 Oct 2020, 16:57

Aliyev: Azerbaijani Army has taken control of nine more villages 

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has announced that the Azerbaijani Army has taken control of nine villages in the Jabrayil (Jrakan), Zangilan (Kovsakan) and Gubadli (Kashunik) districts. 

30 Oct 2020, 16:51

Armenia publishes video of alleged captured Syrian mercenary

Armenia’s Defence Ministry has published a video of a man they claim is a captured Syrian mercenary named Mehred Muhammad Alshker from the town of Hama in Syria.

In the video, the man admits to taking part in the war and being recruited and trained by Turkish military instructors. According to him, he was promised $2,000 which he never received. He was allegedly captured after being wounded on the battlefield. 

The man also talks about being deployed to the frontlines while the ‘Azerbaijani military is deployed to the 2nd and 3rd lines of the battle’.

30 Oct 2020, 16:07

Iran proposes plan on Nagorno-Karabakh settlement with participation of Russia and Turkey

Iranian Deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi, in an interview with Russian Ria Novosti, said that the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh can be resolved at the regional level, with the participation of both Russia and Turkey. 

‘The most important feature of Iran's plan is that it has a regional approach and we can fight and confront this crisis using a regional approach and with the participation of countries with influence in the region. Naturally, Russia is one of the most important countries, just like Turkey’, he said. 

30 Oct 2020, 15:56

Azerbaijan: ‘no need for a new settlement mechanism’ 

Assistant to the Azerbaijani President Hikmat Hajiyev has said that ‘a new mechanism for resolving the Karabakh conflict is not needed’. 

‘At the moment, there is an existing format — the OSCE Minsk Group. But it all depends on the fact that there is no need to create a new mechanism’, he said in an interview with Ria Novosti.

He said that the most important thing now is ‘to find a political solution to the conflict and ensure the liberation of the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, and ensure peace and security in the South Caucasus region’.

Hajiyev mentioned that Armenia is not interested in a political settlement of the conflict.

30 Oct 2020, 13:53

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30 Oct 2020, 13:06

Armenia claims Azerbaijani forces burning captured villages

Nagorno-Karabakh’s Human Rights Defender, Artak Beglaryan, has said there is evidence that Azerbaijani forces have been burning houses immediately upon entering settlements in Nagorno-Karabakh. 

At a press conference yesterday, Armenian MFA spokesperson Anna Naghdalyan stated that ‘the Azerbaijani side tried to destroy the settlements that came under its control with the intent to stop the return of the native population to the area in the future.’

Beglaryan also accused Azerbaijan of deliberately targeting the electricity, gas, and water infrastructure of Stepanakert and Shusha (Shushi) aiming to cause ‘deeper humanitarian catastrophes for civilians.’

According to him, 40 civilians have been killed so far and more than 120 wounded in Nagorno-Karabakh.

30 Oct 2020, 12:44

Armenia and Iran concerned about transfer of ‘international terrorists’ in the region

Armenia’s Foreign Ministry has said that both Armenia and Iran were concerned about the transfer of ‘international terrorists’ from the Middle East to the region, calling this a serious threat.

The statement came following a meeting yesterday between Armenia’s Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi in Yerevan.

There have been widespread reports by international media organisations of Syrian mercenaries recruited by Turkey taking part in the war on Azerbaijan’s side.

During the meeting, Mnatsakanyan reportedly stated that Armenia ‘understands Iran’s sensitivity towards new security threats in the region’ and stressed the importance of Iran’s role in maintaining stability and peace in the region. 

Araghchi reportedly presented Iran’s plan to overcome the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and establish a ceasefire. Mnatsakanyan stated that the Armenian side will look into Iran’s plan in detail.

Mnatsakanyan also informed Araghchi about his planned meeting with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs in Geneva on 30 October and that negotiations will continue in this format.

30 Oct 2020, 12:29

Armenian civilian captive dies

The Human Rights Defender of Armenia, Arman Tatoyan, has announced that 84-year-old Misha Melkumyan, a civilian who was in Azerbaijani captivity, has died.

Melkumyan was set to be handed over to the Armenian side with another civilian captive on 29 October but was not.

Azerbaijani authorities previously said the Armenian side had refused to receive Melkumyan. Tatoyan denied this, claiming that doctors had warned that Melkumyan was not healthy enough to allow his transfer. Melkumyan was to be returned once his health condition allowed it, he said. 

‘Taking into account all the evidence and facts on the cruel and inhumane treatment against Armenians captured by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, the reasonable assumption on the reason of our compatriot’s death becomes clear’, Tatotyan stated this morning.

30 Oct 2020, 12:14

Azerbaijan: ‘Iran could contribute to the settlement of the conflict’

Assistant to the Azerbaijani President Hikmat Hajiyev has said that Iran could contribute to the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. 

‘Iran, as a regional power, a regional country, is also interested in ensuring peace and security. Therefore, Iran also has the right to participate in this process — ensuring peace and security in the South Caucasus region. Maybe in the future, there will be some mechanisms, contact groups within the framework of this process. Iran can also make its contribution to the conflict settlement process’, he said in an interview with Russia’s Ria Novosti

Hajiyev said that a recent visit by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi to Baku was ‘productive’.

‘We discussed all the issues on the bilateral agenda, and at the same time, the settlement of the conflict. Iran is also interested in ensuring peace and security. We also very much appreciate that Iran has always supported and supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognised borders’, he said.

30 Oct 2020, 11:04

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International condemn Armenian use of cluster munitions

International rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have confirmed that Armenian forces fired cluster munitions on the city of Barda.

Azerbaijani authorities have confirmed 21 deaths and at least 70 injuries in the attack on the city on 28 October.

Human Rights Watch said they had analysed photos of the remnants of cluster munitions taken by international and local journalists and residents at or near the scene of the attack. They identified two of the weapons as a Smerch cluster munition rocket and a Smerch parachute-retarded high-explosive fragmentation rocket. 

‘As far as Human Rights Watch is aware, Armenian forces possess Smerch multi-barrel rocket launchers, but Nagorno-Karabakh forces do not. It is therefore likely that Armenian forces carried out the attack or supplied the munitions to Nagorno-Karabakh forces’, they stated. 

Human Rights Watch urged Armenia ‘immediately cease using cluster munitions or supplying them to Nagorno-Karabakh forces’.

‘Both Armenia and Azerbaijan should immediately stop using cluster munitions, destroy their stockpile, and join the Convention on Cluster Munitions’, said Belkis Wille, a senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Amnesty International said this was ‘the first time in the current Nagorno-Karabakh conflict’, that Armenia had used cluster bombs. Their experts also verified pictures as munitions from Russian made Smerch rockets. 

‘The firing of cluster munitions into civilian areas is cruel and reckless, and causes untold death, injury and misery’, said Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. 

‘As this conflict continues to escalate, Armenian, Armenian-backed, and Azerbaijani forces have all been guilty of using of banned weapons that have endangered the lives of civilians caught in the middle’, she said.

Amnesty International previously confirmed the use of cluster munitions by Azerbaijani forces on the city of Stepanakert.

30 Oct 2020, 10:44

Armenia and Azerbaijan report fighting overnight

Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defence stated that overnight battles continued ‘mainly in the direction of Aghdara, Khojavend and Gubadli’. 

The ministry also reported that since the morning, settlements in Tartar, Goranboy, Aghdam, and Aghjabadi districts were shelled. 

Shushan Stepanyan, a spokesperson for the Armenian Ministry of Defence, confirmed that battles continued overnight. She said that the Azerbaijani army ‘tried to launch a new attack in the south-eastern direction’, ‘also in the northern part of the front line’. 

She also said that civilian settlements were targeted.