- Heavy fighting continues along the northern, southern borders of Artsakh
- Artsakh Forces Rebuff Enemy from Mekhakavan (formerly Jebrayil)
- Azerbaijan continues bombing Stepanakert, Begins Bombing Shushi
- Civilian casualties reported in Stepanakert
- Azerbaijan forcing ethnic minorities to fight despite their refusal
- Armenia’s National Security Service arrests foreign citizens for spying
Artsakh Armed Forces dealt a blow to Azerbaijan on Sunday when they stuck its airbase in Ganja, from where long range missile attacks were being launched against civilian and military targets in Artsakh.
Artsakh President Arayik Hauryunyan ordered the hit on Ganja, with government officials confirming that the airbase was taken out. Later on Sunday night (local time) Harutyunyan announced that he had ordered Artsakh forces to halt fire on Ganja in order to prevent civilian casualties on the Azerbaijani side of the border.
Ganja is the ancient Armenian city Gandzak, which during the Soviet era was renamed Kirovabad. In 1989, the city, which boasted an Armenian population of more than 50,000, was cleared of all its Armenian inhabitants because of Azerbaijan’s brutal pogroms.
The airbase in Ganja is being used by Azerbaijan to fly drones, as well as the Turkish F-16 bomber, which downed an Armenian SU-25 fighter jet on Tuesday.
Artsakh Forces fighting in the north rebuffed enemy forces from the Madaghis village on the Artsakh-Azerbaijan border, inflicting damage on Azerbaijani military equipment. Artsakh authorities reported that Azerbaijani army suffered casualties.
On the southern front, Artsakh forces pushed back enemy soldiers in Mekhakavan, formerly known as Jebrail, near the border with Iran.
Armenian Defense Ministry representative Artsrun Hovhannisyan said at a press briefing on Sunday that 400 Azerbaijani soldiers were killed within the past 24 hours, 700 others were wounded, 13 units of military equipment, three planes and one drone were destroyed during Sunday’s battles.
Hovhannisyan said a number of false reports were disseminated during the day by “Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and his family.”
“We saw how they were congratulating themselves on capturing Mataghis, but today we released video showing their troops, under fire by Armenian forces, running away from Mataghis,” Hovhannisyan said.
The same false information was disseminated Sunday regarding Jebrail, said Hovhannisyan.
“We have all reason to believe that Aliyev is in an information blockade in his own country. The commanded-in-chief does not get precise information about the situation․ Therefore, he is not in command of the situation,” Hovhannisyan said.
“From now on, military facilities permanently located in major cities of Azerbaijan will be targeted by the [Artsakh] Defense Army,” said President Harutyunyan who urged Azerbaijani civilians living in those cities to evacuate to avoid being caught in the crossfire.
“The Azerbaijani terrorist army continues to target the civilian population of Stepanakert, using Polonez and Smerch multiple rocket launchers,” said Harutyunyan, who on Saturday joined Artsakh Special Forces on the battlefield.
The bombing of Stepanakert began on Friday and has been continuing through the weekend. Most resident have sought shelter in underground bunkers and the electricity has been cut off. Artsakh officials reported civilian casualties in Stepanakert.
Azerbaijan began bombing civilian targets in Shushi, causing structural damage.
“Cities of Stepanakert and Martakert are being attacked with the use of long-range missiles and involvement of the air force,” said Armenia’s Foreign Ministry in a statement issued Sunday. “The deliberate targeting of the civilian population and infrastructure of Artsakh by the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan is a gross violation of the international humanitarian law, and the latter will bear full responsibility for this war crime.
The Azerbaijani army is forcing is forcing its ethnic minorities to go to the frontlines, despite their clear rejection. The areas of Lezgistan and Talyshstan, which are mainly populated by the ethnic Lezgin and Talysh people.
President Harutyunyan announced that Artsakh forces would not Azerbaijani positions in those two areas “as a show of good will” to the Lezgin and Talysh people.
“We are closely following the internal political developments in Azerbaijan, in particular, the growing protests in Talysh and Lezgin populated cities and villages of Azerbaijan, where the population is boycotting Aliyev’s order to join the army and fight against Artsakh and Armenia,” said Harutyunyan in a message to the two ethnic groups.
“Hundreds of victims reported among the Lezgin and Talysh population provoked the protests.
The modus operandi of the Azerbaijani political clan to use them as a living target and get rid of them in this way has not changed for decades,” added Harutyunyan.
“We value the deep understanding of our cause by the native people of Azerbaijan, the Talysh and Lezgins, as well as your constant expressions of suport,” explained Harutyunyan. “I want to assure you that we stand by the legitimate struggle of the Talysh and Lezgin people. We are ready to contribute by all possible means to the ultimate goal of your struggle – gaining independence.”
Armenia’s National Security Service announced on Sunday that it has arrested several foreign nationals for spying.
“There is enough proof that the [arrested] foreign citizens were gathering information about military equipment, movement of the troops, as well as number of citizens participating in the mobilization,” said the NSS, adding that it is taking all necessary steps to expose others involved in the espionage operation.
Last week, the NSS arrested a former high-ranking official of the Armenian Armed Forces and charged him with spying for Azerbaijan.