Artsakh’s Homes and Forests on Fire from Continuing Azeri Attacks

Sirens were blaring once again on Tuesday night as residential areas of Stepanakert and Shushi were set ablaze by Azerbaijan’s indiscriminate use of missiles following an intense day of battles at the frontline.

Towns in Artsakh were quiet throughout the evening of November 2. However on the morning of November 3, the Azerbaijani military began to fire on the towns of Martuni and Shushi using BM-30 Smerch multiple rocket launcher systems in attacks that persisted into the afternoon. In the evening, civilian populations and objects in Stepanakert and Shushi came under intense shelling, including the Stepanakert Maternity Hospital, which was previously targeted on October 28. Several houses in Shushi were burned. So far, two people have been reported wounded in Stepanakert.

The Artsakh State Emergency Service reports that it found banned incendiary cluster munitions launched by the Azerbaijani military on the territory of Artsakh, the use of which is prohibited against civilian populations by international law. These weapons are intended for “mass destruction and comprehensive arson.” 

Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement in response to Azerbaijan’s continued deliberate attacks on civilian settlements emphasizing that “amid the existential threats the people of Artsakh are facing, the authorities and the Defense Army of Artsakh have the inalienable right to defend their own people and to counterattack the enemy.”


Fighting at the frontline maintained its heightened intensity of the previous week, as the Azerbaijani military launched military offensives along the Line of Contact (LoC) throughout the day, according to Ministry of Defense (MoD) representative Artsrun Hovhannisyan. A subversive division of terrorists and Azeri armed forces was neutralized during a confrontation in the southeastern direction of the LoC near the villages of Taghavard, Karmir Shuka and Sheher. MoD press secretary Shushan Stepanyan reported that several artillery projectiles fell in the territory of Iran when the Azerbaijani military fired artillery in the direction of Artsakh Defense Army units. In the morning, an attack south of Martuni was repelled, resulting in significant losses of manpower and some armored vehicles. The Azeri armed forces made three incursion attempts in the direction of the Karvachar district with the cover of smoke bombs under the pretext of recovering the corpses of deceased soldiers. These advances were neutralized and thrown back by means of artillery fire. 


Armenian officials also reacted to the terror attack in Vienna, Austria on Monday evening, proclaiming that Artsakh is at the forefront of an international war against terrorism. “In no way could the global community afford selective approaches in the fight against international terrorism,” said Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced the start of a “hybrid world war,” the fate of which will be decided by Artsakh’s victory. Indeed the Prime Minister has long alerted the international community that its silence on Azerbaijani-Turkish-terrorist aggression in Artsakh will have grave consequences for global security. In an interview with reporters from European media outlets back on October 30, he advised Western societies to take action to protect their security. “My responsibility is to ensure the security of Yerevan, Armenia and the Armenian people. Vienna’s security is not in my working portfolio,” he said. “I can only warn you against the imminent threat.”

While expressing his concern regarding the internationalization of the war by the involvement of mercenaries from the Middle East, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov commented during an interview with Kommersant that 2,000 such mercenaries have been transferred to the conflict zone. President Harutyunyan responded to Lavrov’s comments by asserting that the counter-terrorist operations of the Defense Army have wiped out or incapacitated over half of them while escalating efforts to uproot the rest. “During the fighting the Azerbaijani army sends the members of those terrorist cells onto the frontline, while overseeing them from the home front, firing upon them in the event of retreat,” he wrote in his Facebook post. “I encourage to spread word about this among Syrian users, as the families of the terrorists fighting against the peaceful population of Artsakh must know the truth.” 

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan warned during an interview with the Jerusalem Post that by supplying weapons to Azerbaijan that are deployed against the peaceful population of Artsakh, Israel has aligned itself with Turkey, Syrian mercenaries and terrorists in an alliance that will ultimately pose grave consequences for the country. According to the Prime Minister, the recruitment of mercenaries by Turkey represents a new mechanism for reinstating the Ottoman Empire, and it is only a matter of time before Turkey’s “imperialistic ambitions” will be aimed toward Israel. 

Meanwhile the Armenian Environmental Front issued a joint statement titled “Ecocide Alert in Nagorno–Karabakh region amidst war between Armenia & Azerbaijan” with the signatures of 51 Armenian and European environmental organizations. The statement warns that the use of white phosphorus munitions by the Azerbaijani military to burn down the forests of Artsakh will not only “destroy valuable ecosystems and habitats” but also “contaminate rivers and underground waters for years, thus turning into a major threat of regional scale for all the people and wildlife” living in a region where local people rely heavily on these forests for their livelihoods. The letter issues a call to “moral responsibility” on behalf of the international community to exclude “war crimes both against humans and nature.” 

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian is a staff writer for the Armenian Weekly. Her writing has also been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Hetq and the Daily Californian. She is pursuing master’s degrees in Journalism and Near Eastern Studies at New York University. A human rights journalist and feminist poet, Lillian's first poetry collection Journey to Tatev was released with Girls on Key Press in spring of 2021.

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