The Republics of Armenia and Artsakh have declared martial law after officials say Azeri forces launched a deadly, large-scale attack along the entire Line of Contact.
“We have declared several times that we don’t support war, but we are ready for it,” said Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan, stressing the responsibility of this latest aggression on Azeri leadership. “We didn’t want war. The war was imposed on us, and it is our duty to defend our homeland and families,” he continued.
Air strikes and artillery attacks against Artsakh began early Sunday morning, targeting peaceful settlements in Stepanakert, Askeran, Martakert, Martuni, Hadrut and Shushi where people have all taken shelter. Azerbaijani forces have been pushed back as heavy fighting continues at this hour. Artsakh officials say its defense units have destroyed four enemy helicopters, approximately 15 UAVs, more than a dozen drones and at least 10 tanks. Artsakh’s Ministry of Defense says its lands have not been taken under Azeri occupation despite reports from Azeri officials.
Artsakh’s Deputy Defense Minister Artur Sargsyan says at least 16 people have died so far; more than 100 people, including women and children in the capital, have been wounded. In addition to infrastructure destruction, the Office of the Human Rights Defender (HRD) of the Republic of Artsakh reports some schools were also damaged. The HRD’s analysis of the situation so far is that the Azerbaijani armed forces are specifically targeting civilian targets in direct violation of international humanitarian law.
“The actions of the Azerbaijani side constitute an act of aggression against the Republic of Artsakh, which, in accordance with the provisions of the UN Charter, exercises its inherent right to self-defense and takes all necessary measures to repel the aggression and restore peace in the region,” stated Artsakh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs following the attacks. “The repeated act of aggression by Azerbaijan against the Republic of Artsakh leaves no doubt that the most effective response of the international community to Azerbaijan’s attempts to resolve the conflict by force is the recognition of the Republic of Artsakh,” continued the statement.
Artsakh’s Foreign Ministry says it is in direct contact with the Personal Representative of the OSCE Minsk Group, which also issued a statement that read in part, “We strongly condemn the use of force and regret the senseless loss of life, including civilians.” Co-Chairs Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, Stephane Visconti of France and Andrew Schofer of the United States called on both sides to end hostilities and resume negotiations to find a sustainable resolution of the conflict. NATO supported the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group in its statement by James Appathurai.
In a harsh rebuke against Azerbaijan, the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) of which Armenia and Azerbaijan are both permanent observers expressed the group’s full support for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and condemned Azerbaijan for ignoring UN calls to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict. “We call on Azerbaijan to immediately cease hostilities, especially those directed towards civilians,” read the statement.
The declarations of martial law by both PM Nikol Pashinyan and Artsakh President Harutyunyan have compelled thousands to prepare themselves for war and defend their homeland. Hundreds from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) and the Nikol Aghpalyan Student Association have mobilized and gathered near the statue of Aram Manoukian, ready to head to the Line of Contact. The ARF Bureau and Supreme Council of Armenia have declared unconditional and complete support of the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh while strongly condemning the actions of Azerbaijan and calling on the international community to do the same. “With all of its pan-Armenian capabilities, [the ARF] stands resolute with the Armenian army. From this moment forward, we are all soldiers of the Armenian army, ready for any military operation,” read an ARF Armenia statement. For its part, the ARF Bureau places responsibility for the attacks on both Azerbaijan and Turkey, stating, “We call on Turkey to end its involvement in the conflict and to demonstrate a constructive stance in the region. We will take all necessary steps to counter the offensive policies of Azerbaijan and Turkey.”
In a fiery address on the floor of the National Assembly, Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan asserted that “not a single millimeter of the motherland will be surrendered.” “I have come here to say what I am ready for. I am ready to be martyred. Armenians have never kneeled; it will never happen,” exclaimed the PM just days after his address to the UN General Assembly in which he summarized Azerbaijan’s first attempt at destabilizing the region when it attacked Tavush back in July and noted Turkey’s unyielding support for Azerbaijan’s lack of restraint. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also commented on Sunday’s developments, tweeting “By attacking Azerbaijan yet again, Armenia has once more demonstrated that it is the largest threat to peace and tranquility in the region. The Turkish nation with all its capabilities today, as always, stands with its Azerbaijani brothers.”
This is a developing story. Further updates will be provided. In addition, the ARF-Eastern Region once again is seeking support for the With Our Soldier Program.