STEPANAKERT, NKR (A.W.)—Nagorno-Karabagh Republic (NKR/Artsakh) Defense Army serviceman Private Artyom Arseni Varderesian (b. 1996) was killed by Azerbaijani fire on the Line of Contact (LoC) at 2:55 p.m. on March 17. Later in the day, at around 5:30 p.m., another NKR Army soldier, Hovhannes Razmiki Harutyunyan (b. 1997), was killed by a “weapons-use violation,” according to a press statement published by the NKR Defense Ministry.
Investigations to determine the details surrounding these incidents are underway, according to the NKR Defense Ministry.
The ministry expressed condolences to the families of Varderesyan and Harutyunyan, as well as to members of their units.
On March 17 and in the early hours of March 18, the Azerbijani Army fired more than 600 shots from different caliber weapons. The NKR Army took retaliatory measures, according to the ministry.
Last week, the NKR Defense Army quelled a diversion attempt by the Azerbaijani Army that took place around 11:20 p.m. on March 10. According to the NKR Defense Ministry, the NKR Defense Army pushed the Azerbaijani troops back to their positions, killing at least two and wounding several others; the NKR Defense Army suffered no casualties.
More than 5,500 shots from various guns of different calibers were shot at Armenian positions on March 10 and 11. According to the NKR Defense Ministry press statement, the Azerbaijani Army also used howitzer cannons alongside the usual arsenal.
The NKR Defense Ministry said the unprecedented attack proves that the Azerbaijani side has adopted an unrestrained strategy to destabilize the situation at the conflict line, the result of which is unpredictable.
Royce and Sherman Call on Obama to Press Aliyev on Peace amid Ongoing Aggression
Nineteen-year-old NKR serviceman Aramayis Voskanian became the first Armenian casualty of 2016 on Jan. 9, in the ongoing conflict on the Azerbaijan-NKR LoC. Thirty-five Armenian soldiers and three civilians died in the NKR conflict in 2015. In early December 2015, in a span of two weeks, seven Armenian servicemen were killed by Azerbaijani fire, as Baku resorted to escalating the conflict by deploying and firing a tank along the LoC.
In anticipation of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s visit to Washington for a Nuclear Summit at the end of March, leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in February called on President Barack Obama to use the opportunity to personally press the Azerbaijani leader to stop obstructing the implementation of the life-saving Royce-Engel peace proposals for Karabagh.
The letter, authored by Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Representative Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, builds upon an earlier congressional letter, sent by 85 U.S. Representatives to the State Department last December, in support of 3 practical peacekeeping measures, known collectively as the Royce-Engel proposals.
The full text of the Royce-Sherman letter can be read here.
To support this pro-peace initiative, visit www.anca.org/AliyevDC.
*Note: An earlier version of this article erroneously reported that Hovhannes Razmiki Harutyunyan had been killed by Azerbaijani fire. The NKR Defense Ministry has reported that Harutyunyan died as a result of a “weapons-use violation.”