STEPANAKERT, NKR—The Nagorno-Karabagh Defense Army and the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan reportedly agreed at around noon on April 5 to halt the fighting along the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic (NKR/Artsakh) Line of Contact (LoC), in light of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group negotiations that will take place in Vienna this afternoon, according to CivilNet.
Chief of the Operations Division of the NKR Defense Army Viktor Arustamyan told reporters on April 5 in Stepanakert that during the 4 days of fighting, the Armenian side suffered 29 casualties and 101 wounded, reported Civilnet. He also noted that the NKR forces lost 14 tanks, while Azerbaijan lost 24.
Drone Attack on Bus Claims 5 Lives on April 4
On April 4, Armenia’s Defense Ministry announced that Azerbaijan had carried out a drone attack on a bus carrying Armenian volunteer servicemen to Nagorno-Karabagh, claiming seven lives. A day later, on April 5, a report in the Washington Post claimed that Israeli-made suicide drones were seen flying over NKR, in possibly the first instance of such a weapon being used during combat. “The drone, based on its distinct wing shape and nose, looks like an Israeli Aerospace Industries Harop loitering munition. Unlike, for instance, a Predator drone armed with a Hellfire missile, the Harop itself is the munition and destroys a target by ramming into it,” Thomas Gibbons-Neff explained in the article entitled “Israeli-made kamikaze drone spotted in Nagorno-Karabagh conflict.”
Minsk Group Issues Statement
The Minsk Group issued a statement on April 5 strongly condemning the violence, expressing condolences to the families of all casualties, reiterating that “there is no military solution to the conflict,” and stressing the need to immediately begin negotiations.
“We, the representatives of the OSCE Minsk Group countries (Russian Federation, the United States of America, France, Belarus, Finland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Turkey), as well as the incoming Austrian OSCE chair (2017) and the Serbian OSCE chair (2015), strongly condemn the outbreak of unprecedented violence along the Line of Contact. We extend our condolences to all affected families. We urge the sides to cease using force immediately. There is no military solution to the conflict,” read the statement. “The deterioration of the situation on the ground demonstrates the need for an immediate negotiation, under the auspices of the co-chairs, on a comprehensive settlement.”
Earlier in the day, the NKR Defense Ministry stated that the fighting along the LoC had continued overnight. It also accused Azerbaijan of “increasing the caliber of the weapons used” with each passing day, noting that the Azerbaijani forces had used Heavy Multiple Rocket Launcher Smerch towards the Karabagh forces.
In another statement on April 5, the NKR Defense Ministry said that, as part of its military policy, it was not engaging in the targeting of civilian dwellings. In contrast, the Azerbaijani Army targeted civilian dwellings in Martuni on April 4, just as it had targeted Martakert and its surrounding villages a day earlier.