Attack Repelled; Casualties Include 12-Year-Old Artsakh Boy
STEPANAKER, YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Azerbaijan launched a full-blown attack on multiple positions of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic border overnight on April 1-2. President Serzh Sarkisian on Saturday called an emergency National Security Council meeting, after which he reported that 18 soldiers were killed and 30 were wounded.
The Azerbaijani army employed tanks, military helicopters, drones, and various caliber weapons in an assault targeting the Line of Contact on the southern, southeastern, and northeastern fronts. The Artsakh Defense Army retaliated, and, according to the Artsakh Defense Ministry Twitter page, brought down two helicopters and two drones, and destroyed three tanks. There are multiple casualties on both sides; Azerbaijan has reported 12 combatant casualties. Civilians have also been targeted. According to reports, 12-year-old Vaghinag Grigoryan was killed in the Marduni region, while two other children were wounded, from a Grad BM-21 multiple rocket launcher attack.
A number of Armenian soldiers wounded in the attack are being flown to Yerevan for medical treatment, according to PanArmenian.net. Meanwhile Artsakh President’s spokesperson Davit Babayan told Civilnet that the number of Azerbaijani casualties are in the dozens, if not hundreds. Babayan told Tert.am that the situation is now relatively calm following the overnight attacks.
According to reports, Sarkisian was briefed on the attack midair, on his way to Yerevan from Washington. Meanwhile, Artsakh Prime Minister Arayik Harutyunyan immediately returned to Artsakh from Yerevan.
Following the NSC meeting Saturday, President Sarkisian called the attacks the worse attacks since the 1994 cease fire.
“Dear colleagues, as you know, the Azerbaijan armed forces undertook provocative actions all along the line of contact with the Karabakh forces. These were the most large-scale military actions ever since 1994 undertaken by the Azerbaijani side,” said Sarkisian.
The Artsakh Defense Army regained control of the situation thanks to timely and skilled actions. The rival used air force, all types of armored vehicles and artillery. The losses of the Azeri air force, infantry and armored vehicles are sustainable. We also have losses: as of now, 18 are reported killed, 30 wounded,” added Sarkisian.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for an immediate ceasefire. Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has reached out to his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts—Seyran Ohanyan and Zakir Hasanov—to quell the situation.
Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Executive Director Aram Hamparian called for immediate Obama Administration action to stop Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s latest attacks against Nagorno-Karabagh—the worst since the ceasefire established in 1994.
The attack comes after the conclusion of the 4th Nuclear Security Summit in Washington D.C.; participants to the summit included Armenian President Serge Sarkisian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
On the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit, Aliyev met with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. According to the Azerbaijani president’s official website, “[Biden] said the USA resolutely supported Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, adding that this was of great importance for the United States.”
The ANCA strongly criticized Biden’s meeting with Aliyev. “Vice President Biden, in personally meeting Azerbaijani President Aliyev in this manner—without any public challenge to his escalating regional aggression and worsening domestic repression—openly emboldened his belligerence while actively undermining American efforts to keep the peace and reach a negotiated settlement,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
The ANCA also criticized Secretary of State John Kerry for failing to mention concerns regarding Azerbaijan’s track record of ceasefire—as well as domestic human rights—violations to Aliyev. “Secretary Kerry in his public remarks with President Aliyev, regretfully, made no mention at all of any American concerns regarding President Aliyev’s threats and acts of violence or his crackdown on domestic dissent. There has, as well, been no mention, in the public record, of the life-saving Royce-Engel peace proposals that the State Department has publicly supported.”
“The Obama Administration’s failure, in Washington, to confront Azerbaijan’s aggression gave Aliyev the green light to launch these attacks on Karabagh,” said Hamparian. “Immediate action must be taken by the Obama Administration to stop President Aliyev’s latest attacks, along with concrete steps to ensure a lasting peace in the region which respects the right to self-determination and freedom for the people of Nagorno Karabagh.”
Meanwhile the Co-Chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group—Ambassadors Igor Popov of Russia, James Warlick of the U.S., and Pierre Andrieu of France—issued a statement expressing “grave concern” over the ceasefire violations. “We strongly condemn the use of force and regret the senseless loss of life, including civilians,” read the statement. “The Co-Chairs call upon the sides to stop shooting and take all necessary measures to stabilize the situation on the ground. They reiterate that there is no alternative to a peaceful negotiated solution of the conflict and that war is not an option.”
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s (ARF) Supreme Body in Armenia also issued a statement condemning the attack, and declaring that the ARF stands beside Artsakh’s and Armenia’s governments to safeguard the security of both governments and their populations, reported Aztag Daily. The ARF also called upon all Armenian organizations and the public to respond to Azerbaijan’s aggression in a unified manner and impose peace on the aggressor.
The ANCA has urged the public to take action by sending a webmail to President Obama, Congress, and the OSCE Karabagh negotiators urging them to take immediate action to stop Baku’s latest attacks. TAKE ACTION NOW.