Armenian Servicemen Killed, Villages Shelled
Two Armenian servicemen were killed on Sept. 4 during attacks on Armenian positions by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, reported the Nagorno Karabagh Republic (NKR) Ministry of Defense. Marat Khachanyan and Arman Stepanyan of the NKR Defense Army were killed during a raid by the Azerbaijani army.
A day earlier, an Armenian serviceman was killed and two were injured as a result of heavy caliber fire from Azerbaijani positions near border villages in northeastern Armenia, reported the press office of the Ministry of Defense of Armenia on Sept. 3. The attack took place a day following celebrations of the 24th anniversary of the independence of the NKR. Armenian contract serviceman Hayk Karleni Devoyan suffered a fatal shot to the neck during the Azerbaijani offensive. He was 40 years old and had been serving in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia since 2010.
Several Armenian villages under fire
Attacks by Azerbaijan have intensified on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border in recent days, as Azerbaijani forces launched long-range rocket attacks on several border villages in Armenia’s Tavush province.
Armenia’s Defense Ministry Spokesperson Artsrun Hovhannisyan said on Sept. 2 that the situation on the border is tense, as Armenian forces continue to face heavy shelling and rocket attacks.
“The adversary is using heavy artillery and I would categorize the situation as very serious, tense. Armenia’s military forces are responding to the adversary’s gunfire,” said Hovhannisyan, as reported by Armenpress.
As a result of the long-range rocket attacks, two residents of Koti—one of about 20 villages that were attacked in the area—were wounded and hospitalized. The 43-year-old woman and her 23-year-old son were rushed to a Noyemberyan hospital; reportedly, they are in stable condition.
Photographs of partially destroyed homes and buildings in Armenian border villages—including Koti, Sevkar, and Baghanis—that were targeted by Azerbaijani mortars on Sept. 1-2 have surfaced on social media.
Warlick: Such escalation is unacceptable
James Warlick, the U.S. Co-Chairman of the Organization for Security and Co‑operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, condemned the “deliberate targeting” of civilians in the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict, in a tweet on Sept. 4.
“We condemn the deliberate targeting of innocent civilians in the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict. We stand for a negotiated settlement. #NKpeace,” read one of Warlick’s tweets.
In an earlier tweet on the same day, Warlick shared an image of a 120mm mortar reportedly used in the shelling and called the escalation of violence “unacceptable.”
Lavrov expresses hope for Karabagh peace
On Sept. 1 Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov paid a working visit to Azerbaijan, where he held meetings with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Foreign Affairs Minister Elmar Mammadyarov. During the meetings, the parties reviewed the current issues in bilateral relations, cooperation in international affairs, and the challenges facing a settlement to the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict, according to the press office of Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry. Lavrov reportedly expressed hope that there will be progress in reaching a settlement.
Baku: Reports of Azeri losses untrue
On Sept. 2, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry condemned local media reports that Azerbaijani soldiers have died on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border in recent days, claiming such reports “serve Armenia’s interests” and are aimed at “casting a shadow on Azerbaijan’s military achievements,” reported RFE/RL’s Armenian service Azatutyun.am.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry further claimed that the news of the death of Azerbaijani soldiers were exaggerated, untrue, and released by people whose ethnic origin is “suspicious.”
“The [ethnic] origin of some persons, who serve the Armenian interests by circulating officially unconfirmed, exaggerated and often untrue news reports, is starting to cause suspicions,” the ministry added, apparently threatening to accuse Azerbaijani journalists of being of Armenian descent, according to Azatutyun.am.
In September 2014, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree that tightened government control over information coming from the frontlines. According to Azatutyun.am, the decree followed an August 2014 surge in fighting around Karabagh, which left at least 15 Azerbaijani soldiers dead. According to Armenian military officials and observers, Azerbaijani authorities intentionally underreport casualties, in order to avoid domestic upheaval.