Attack Repelled; Casualties Include 12-Year-Old Karabagh Boy
Azerbaijan launched a full-blown attack on multiple positions of the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic (NKR/Artsakh) Line of Contact (LoC) overnight on April 1-2. The Azerbaijani Army employed tanks, military helicopters, drones, and various caliber weapons in an assault that targeted the LoC on the southern, southeastern, and northeastern fronts. The NKR Defense Army retaliated and, according to the NKR Defense Ministry Twitter page, brought down two helicopters and two drones, and destroyed three tanks. Multiple casualties were reported on both sides. Civilians were also targeted. According to reports, 12-year-old Vaghinag Grigoryan was killed in the Marduni region, and two other children were wounded, from a Grad BM-21 multiple rocket launcher attack.
During an emergency meeting of Armenia’s National Security Council held on the evening of April 2, Armenia’s President Serge Sarkisian announced that as a result of the attacks, the Armenian side had suffered 18 casualties, with 35 people were injured. Azerbaijan’s losses—including to its air force, personnel, and armored vehicles—were “significant,” he added, according to PanArmenian.net. Azerbaijan reported 12 combatant casualties, although the NKR Defense Ministry maintained that the Azerbaijani side had suffered 200 losses.
A number of Armenian soldiers wounded in the attack are being flown to Yerevan for medical treatment, according to PanArmenian.net. NKR president spokesperson Davit Babayan told Civilnet that the number of Azerbaijani casualties were in the dozens, if not hundreds. Babayan told Tert.am that the situation is relatively calm following the overnight attacks.
According to reports, Sarkisian was briefed on the attack midair, on his way to Yerevan from Washington, D.C. NKR Prime Minister Arayik Harutyunyan immediately returned to Artsakh from Yerevan.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for an immediate ceasefire. Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has reached out to his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts—Seyran Ohanyan and Zakir Hasanov, respectively—to help quash the situation.
Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Executive Director Aram Hamparian called for immediate Obama Administration action to stop Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s latest attacks against Nagorno-Karabagh—the worst since the ceasefire established in 1994.
The attack comes after the conclusion of the 4th Nuclear Security Summit in Washington D.C.; participants to the summit included Armenian President Serge Sarkisian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
On the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit, Aliyev met with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. According to the Azerbaijani president’s official website, “[Biden] said the USA resolutely supported Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, adding that this was of great importance for the United States.”
The ANCA strongly criticized Biden’s meeting with Aliyev. “Vice President Biden, in personally meeting Azerbaijani President Aliyev in this manner—without any public challenge to his escalating regional aggression and worsening domestic repression—openly emboldened his belligerence while actively undermining American efforts to keep the peace and reach a negotiated settlement,” said Hamparian.
The ANCA also criticized Secretary of State John Kerry for failing to mention concerns regarding Azerbaijan’s track record of ceasefire—as well as domestic human rights—violations to Aliyev. “Secretary Kerry in his public remarks with President Aliyev, regretfully, made no mention at all of any American concerns regarding President Aliyev’s threats and acts of violence or his crackdown on domestic dissent. There has, as well, been no mention, in the public record, of the life-saving Royce-Engel peace proposals that the State Department has publicly supported.”
“The Obama Administration’s failure, in Washington, to confront Azerbaijan’s aggression gave Aliyev the green light to launch these attacks on Karabagh,” said Hamparian. “Immediate action must be taken by the Obama Administration to stop President Aliyev’s latest attacks, along with concrete steps to ensure a lasting peace in the region which respects the right to self-determination and freedom for the people of Nagorno-Karabagh.”
Meanwhile the co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group—Ambassadors Igor Popov of Russia, James Warlick of the United States, and Pierre Andrieu of France—issued a statement expressing “grave concern” over the ceasefire violations. “We strongly condemn the use of force and regret the senseless loss of life, including civilians,” read the statement. “The co-chairs call upon the sides to stop shooting and take all necessary measures to stabilize the situation on the ground. They reiterate that there is no alternative to a peaceful negotiated solution of the conflict and that war is not an option.”
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s (ARF) Supreme Body in Armenia also issued a statement condemning the attack, and declaring that the ARF stands beside the governments of the NKR and Armenia in their efforts to safeguard the security of both republics and their populations, reported Aztag Daily. The ARF also called on all Armenian organizations and the public to respond to Azerbaijan’s aggression in a unified manner to impose peace on the aggressor.
The ANCA has urged the public to take action by sending a webmail to President Obama, Congress, and the OSCE Karabagh negotiators urging them to take immediate action to stop Baku’s latest attacks. To take action, click here.