Azeri War Crimes Mount as Forces Bomb Maternity Hospital in Stepanakert

The cities of Stepanakert and Shushi suffered another day of widespread destruction after Azeri forces bombed more civilian infrastructure, most notably a maternity hospital in Artsakh’s capital.

Fortunately, Republican Maternity Hospital was empty at the time and no one was hurt in that missile attack, which decimated the facility. Artsakh presidential spokesperson Vahram Poghosyan suspects the use of a Turkish F-16 bomber in that attack. “This war crime, which is a gross violation of international humanitarian law, customary law, clearly shows that Azerbaijan’s target in Artsakh is the people—infants, mothers, the elderly,” read a statement from Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “The attempts of the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan to kill life in Artsakh will fail, and their organizers will be held accountable.” Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, who has been a key participant in this current conflict’s three ceasefire agreements—all of which have failed to hold—said Azerbaijan is incapable of respecting its own commitments. He added that the security risks for civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh is very high.  

In Artsakh’s second largest city of Shushi, officials say one person was killed and at least five others were wounded when a Smerch multiple rocket launcher struck the city, targeting residential areas, a school and other critical civilian infrastructure. Among the injured are three members of the Artsakh State Emergency Service. In a tweet, Artsakh president Arayik Harutyunyan described the targeted attacks on civilian objects as a war crime. “Deliberate attacks on buildings dedicated to education are attacks on our kids’ right to education and a violation of international law,” he wrote.

Fifty-nine more Armenian soldiers were added to the growing list of military casualties on Wednesday, bringing the number of losses to 1,068.

On the battlefield, the Artsakh Defense Army worked to neutralize subversive subdivisions of the Azeri armed forces carrying out persistent small-scale operations in the southern direction of the Line of Contact (LoC) throughout the day. An advance in the direction of Berdzor was pushed back, with positional improvements on the Armenian side. The Azerbaijani military also shelled the northern direction of the LoC, particularly in the direction of Martakert. MoD Press Secretary Shushan Stepanyan refuted allegations that the Armenian armed forces fired at the town of Barda and killed dozens of civilians in Azerbaijan as groundless. 

MoD representative Artsrun Hovhannisyan advised listeners to trust in the wisdom, proficiency and solidity of the Armenian military during his daily press briefing, stating that while the war will not be won in the matter of minutes, hours or even days, Armenia will ultimately triumph. “We do not take revenge for the actions of the Azerbaijani leadership and armed forces on peaceful civilians,” he stressed. “We fight against the adversary who has invaded our home.” 

There are also increasing concerns of more instability in the region following the withdrawal of Armenian troops from some areas of the front. After analyzing the tactics of intercepted telephone conversations among mercenaries, Artsakh’s Ministry of Defense declared that Azerbaijani Armed Forces are diligently establishing terrorist bases. “The Armenian side stands for the immediate withdrawal of international terrorist organizations from the South Caucasus and resolutely rejects Turkey’s actions aimed at further destabilization of the region,” MoFA spokesperson Anna Naghdalyan asserted. The Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) denounced claims from the Turkish MoD that Armenia has employed foreign mercenaries, pointing to undeniable evidence of Turkish deployment of international jihadist terrorists from Syria and Libya in the South Caucasus. “Armenia and Artsakh, unlike our two neighbors, do not host, but fight terrorists,” said Naghdalyan. 

Indeed, during a phone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his concern over the wide-scale involvement of terrorists from the Middle East in the hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan. 

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, for his part, welcomed the inclusion of Turkey and Russia in the settlement of the war, calling for the creation of “new mechanisms of regional cooperation between the countries of the region” in place of the OSCE Minsk Group format during an interview with Interfax. He reiterated that the withdrawal of Armenian troops from Artsakh and surrounding territories is a necessary precondition to the cessation of Azerbaijani military operations and to the admittance of Russian peacekeepers to Artsakh, which Armenia has welcomed. In an open letter congratulating his close ally President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Republic Day in Turkey, he cited the country’s unequivocal support of Azerbaijan in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict as an example of their unity and brotherhood, which will strengthen under the slogan, “One Nation, Two States.”

An excerpt of an October 20 interview with Agencia EFE was released today in which Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan shared that Russian border guards have been placed along Armenia’s southeastern border with the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic and the southwestern border with the Republic of Artsakh in response to Azerbaijani aggression in Artsakh. Russian border guards have monitored Armenia’s borders with Turkey and Iran for the past decades under mutual treaty obligations. 

Meanwhile in the US less than a week before Election Day, there was a new development from the campaign for presidential candidate Joe Biden, who accused his opponent of failing to stop the advancement of Azerbaijan’s forces into Nagorno-Karabakh. “While he brags about his deal-making skills at campaign rallies, Trump has yet to get involved personally to stop this war,” read the statement, which specifically called for sanctions on Azerbaijan and the implementation of section 907 of the Freedom Support Act to stop the flow of military equipment to Azerbaijan. Biden also singled out Russia and Turkey in their supply of weapons and mercenaries, respectively. 

Also on Wednesday, President Harutyunyan conferred the “Hero of Artsakh” honor upon Lieutenant General Jalal Harutyunyan for his brave and courageous service to the Republic of Artsakh in ensuring the defense and security of the motherland. The general was injured during battle on Tuesday, and doctors say he is recovering. Following his injury, the president appointed now-Lieutenant General Mikael Arzumanyan as the new commander of the Artsakh Defense Army.

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian is a journalist based in Los Angeles, California. She has written for the Daily Californian, Hetq and the Armenian Weekly, covering topics ranging from the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Armenia to the Armenian feminist movement on Instagram. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts in Peace and Conflict Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Armenian Studies, and applies her human rights expertise to uncover silenced narratives. When she is not on the hunt for a story, Lillian enjoys writing poetry and attending quarantine "Zoom-ba" classes.
Leeza Arakelian

Leeza Arakelian

Assistant Editor
Leeza Arakelian is the assistant editor for the Armenian Weekly. She is a formally trained broadcast news writer and a graduate of UCLA and Emerson College. Leeza has written and produced for local and network television news including Boston 25 and Al Jazeera America.
Leeza Arakelian

@LeezaYeretzian

Assistant editor @armenianweekly, former @boston25 writer, AP @AmericaTonight (AJAM), @ecjrn 2012, @ucla 2010 (leeza@armenianweekly.com)
RT @LianaAgh: Vayots Dzor, Southern Armenia, Winter 2010 https://t.co/5wgXQ293QF - 19 hours ago

3 Comments

  1. Stay strong Armenia. Better to fight an enemy outside of your borders than inside it. Just look at what’s going on in France right now. Thank god we don’t see that in the streets of Yerevan. Let’s keep Armenia’s borders closed

    • Well spoken, Greg. That matter of keeping the enemy outside the country is important. The same goes for any negotiations that involve Armenia’s Artsakh Stronghold. Any Azerbaijanis who return to the surrounding areas should be required to pass through checkpoints, if they ever cross into Armenian populated areas.

    • Exactly. Armenians should learn from Europe as an example of how not to do things. As long as the enemy is outside of Armenia’s borders it is much easier to define and defeat them as opposed to one that is inside. I truly hope that Armenia never ends up having the same domestic security concerns that France has… or any other Western European nation for that matter.

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