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Armenia-Azerbaijan border clashes - Sum-up of the day's developments
14 July 2020

This is a sum-up of the developments of the day in the current military stand-off between Armenia and Azerbaijan compiled by the news team of commonspace.eu at 1730 CEST on Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Fighting on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border intensified as it entered its third day on Tuesday (14 July). Both sides reported heavy military activity overnight, with both sides using artillery and drones, as well as heavy calibre machine guns and grenade launchers.

It is not yet clear the extent of the casualties from the ongoing fighting. Both sides claim to have inflicted heavy casualties on the other side, but have themselves only reported modest casualties. Azerbaijan however made a shock announcement on Tuesday late morning that one of its most respected generals, Lt. Gen Polad Hashimov, had been killed in the fighting, together with the Head of the Artillery Corps and a number of other officers. Armenia, after initially not reporting any casualties at all, now confirms that two of its officers and a number of soldiers have been killed.

The fighting is taking place close to areas with civilian populations. On the Azerbaijani side the towns and villages of Tovuz, Alibeyli and Dondar Gushchu, in the Tovuz district, and the village of Khalinjalar in the Khazak district which borders Georgia, were reported hit. Armenia accuses of Azerbaijan of targeting its population in the town of Berd and the village of Tavush, both in the Tavush District. So far only one Azerbaijani civilian has been reported killed, but the International Committee of the Red Cross has expressed concern at the unfolding situation. The ombudsman of Azerbaijan, Sabina Aliyeva, visited civilians in the village of Dondar Gushchu that had been affected by the fighting, whilst the Ombudsman of Armenia met the ICRC to discuss the conditions of the civilian populations. Both sides have said they are not targeting civilian populations, but the closeness of military facilities to civilian settlements make the situation risky.

There appear to be ongoing diplomatic efforts behind the scenes to stop the fighting, and Moscow said the Kremlin was ready to mediate a cease fire. In April 2016, when a similar escalation of fighting occurred, it was Russia that managed to mediate a cease fire on the fifth day. This time the situation is further complicated by the fact that the fighting is not taking place in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, but on the undisputed international border. This means that Armenia can trigger the mutual defence clause as a member of the Russia led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO). The CSTO has however in the past been very reluctant to get embroiled in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. On Tuesday the organisation issued a lukewarm statement in which the Secretariat expressed "serious concern over the aggravation of the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border".

The CSTO statement added

"The current situation does not contribute to normalizing the situation on the border of two neighbouring states, one of which is the Republic of Armenia, which is a member state of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, and indicates a violation of the ceasefire reached at the leadership level of Armenia and Azerbaijan. We emphasize the need for an immediate restoration of the ceasefire in the CSTO responsibility zone. We express our condolences to the families of the victims and wish the wounded a speedy recovery. The Collective Security Council, the CSTO Council of Foreign Ministers in their statements have repeatedly called on the parties to seek settlement of conflict situations exclusively by peaceful means and to refrain from provocative actions in order to prevent the escalation of tension".  

The statement has been criticised by some political forces in Armenia as being too weak.

It is not clear what role if any is currently being played by the co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk process, representing France, Russia and the United States. They normally lead the international effort in support of a resolution of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, but they have not been in the region for a while because of the coronavirus pandemic. It appears however that it is the Russians who are taking the lead in trying to broker the cease fire.

On its part Turkey has been vocal in supporting Azerbaijan's position with statments made by both the foreign and the defence ministers, although it is not clear if this solidarity is taking any tangible form.

Away from the field of battle several website on both sides of the conflict divide were brought down on Tuesday as a result of cyber attacks

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Updated at  13.00 CEST

Fighting on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan appeared to have intensified on Tuesday (14 July) with both sides admitting casualties among their officer corps.

Azerbaijan says that one of its generals has been killed as well as the head of the Artillary Corps and several other officers.

Armenia for the first time confirmed fatalities in the fighting, naming the deceased as two Army officers, Major Garush Vemiri Hambardzumyan and Captain Sos Paylak Elbakyan.

The two sides appear to be targetting each other's command and control posts, which explains the high number of casualties among officers.

Whilst it is not clear why and how the fighting started on Sunday afternoon, and this is likely to be the subject of controversy for a long time to come, the sides now appear to be focusing on capturing strategic heights and points. At this part of the border there are civilian settlements on both sides, and they are currently vulnerable to shelling. Both sides would like to gain strategic points enabling them to stop this.

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Azerbaijan has said that one of its generals has been killed in clashes between its forces and Armenian forces in the northern sector of their international border. Deputy Defense Minister, Lieutenant General Karim Valiyev told journalists Major General Hashimov Polad and Colonel Ilgar Mirzayev died this morning during the fighting. 

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The violence of the last forty eight hours on the Armenian Azerbaijani border has claimed its first civilian victim. Azerbaijan says that one of its citizens, Aziz Azimov, a 76 year old resident of the village of Aghdam in the Tovuz region was killed as a result of Armenian shelling. Azerbaijani says that there has been shelling of its communities in Aghdam, Dondar Guschu and Alibeyli. Armenia has so far not reported any civilian casualties, but says that Azerbaijani has shelled the village of Berd in the Tavush region

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The military stand-off between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the northern sector of their international border continues. Both sides report military activity on Monday night and early Tuesday morning (14 July).

Azerbaijan claims that the villages of Agdam and Alibeyli in Tovuz region were shelled by artillary and heavy callibre weapons. Armenia says that it fired on an Azerbaijani tank as it was moving during the night. There are no reports of mopre casualties.

In the meantime, international pressure on both sides to stop the fighting and step back from the confrontation continued. The UN Secretary General became the latest international figure to join the appeal. The Secretary-General called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and called on the parties to take steps to resolve the situation, as well as to refrain from provocative rhetoric. The EU, US, and Russia have also made similar calls.

source: commonspace.eu with agencies

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