Tensions Remain High Despite Fragile Ceasefire
Azerbaijan continued to target border regions, including civilian settlements, despite a tenuous ceasefire that was announced at 9 a.m. Tuesday local time.
Shortly after midnight, at 12:05 a.m. on Tuesday, Azerbaijani forces launched a massive attack on Armenia’s Gegharkunik, Syunik and Vayots Dzor provinces, during which, according to official reports, 49 Armenian soldiers were killed. In a briefing to parliament on Tuesday, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan warned that the number casualties could grow, as the arduous process of identifying remains gets underway.
Armenia’s Defense Ministry said there was sufficient evidence to confirm that Azerbaijan’s latest attack against Armenia’s sovereign territory can be deemed as a criminal act against Armenia’s civilian population.
Starting from midnight till now the Azerbaijani units continue targeting the border settlements and civilian infrastructure. The Defense Ministry will continue regularly making official statements about the developments. The Ministry calls on to follow exclusively the official news, refrain from traveling to the combat zone, moreover, publishing videos from that territories”, he stated.
“Against the backdrop of this obvious reality, the claims of the Azerbaijan side that they do not target the civilian population, are becoming more than absurd. There are sufficient evidences which confirm the criminal actions of the Azerbaijani armed forces against the civilian population,” Armenia’s Defense Ministry spokesperson Aram Torosyan said durning a news briefing on Tuesday.
He confirmed that the situation in and around the border region “remained tense,” as of 9 p.m. local time. Torosyan added that the intensity of the shelling had subsided.
“Although it’s still too early to talk about the stabilization of the situation, the intensity of bombardment registered since midnight has significantly weakened. The enemy has bee attempting to advance its positions throughout the day with the use of special purpose units, primarily targeting the Nerkin Hand, Verin Shorzha, Artanish and Sotk. The Armenian Armed Forces continue to fully implement their combat duties,” explained Torosyan.
The defense ministry also released a video detailing the onslaught of Azerbaijani forces into Armenia’s sovereign territory.
During the overnight attacks on Tuesday, Azerbaijani forces also targeted Jermuk and other regions in the Vayots Dzor Province.
At around 6 p.m. local time Tuesday a forest fire broke out in Jermuk, according to Hayk Kostanyan, the spokesperson for Armenia’s Emergency Situations Ministry, who told Armenpress that the fire was a direct result of the Azerbaijani shelling of the area.
Azerbaijani troop presence in those areas is preventing efforts to extinguish the fire, according to Kostanyan, who said that firefighters are working to put out the fire in areas where there no impediments from Azerbaijani forces.
Earlier in the day, Torosyan, the defense ministry spokesperson, denied Azerbaijani claims that Armenian forces violated a ceasefire, brokered by Russia, that went into effect at 9 a.m. local time.
The Chairman of the International Affairs Committee of Russia’s Federation Council Grigory Karasin said that Yerevan and Baku had reached a ceasefire agreement through Russia’s efforts.
In an interview with RIA Novosti, Karasin said that the ceasefire was established following phone conversations between Pashinyan and President Vladimir Putin of Russia.
The office of Armenia’s Human Rights Defender has been visiting the areas affected by Azerbaijan’s most recent attack and is compiling information and documenting the extent of damage to civilian and administrative infrastructure in the places.