Fighting continues across Karabakh as casualties mount

Posted on CIVILNET

Clashes continued overnight and into Wednesday morning across Nagorno-Karabakh as casualties continued to mount.

As of 9 AM local time, “fighting continued with varying levels of intensity along the entire line of contact,” the Artsakh Defense Army said.

At least 27 people have been killed and more than 200 injured, according to the latest update from Nagorno-Karabakh’s Human Rights Defender’s Office. Those figures include both military and civilian casualties and are expected to rise significantly.

More than 7,000 civilians have been evacuated from the frontlines to relatively safer areas, according to Nagorno-Karabakh’s state-run InfoCenter. It was not immediately clear if that figure included the more than 1,800 people the Russian peacekeepers said they had evacuated.

Civilian infrastructure, including residential buildings, has reportedly been damaged across Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijani forces began shelling locations across Nagorno-Karabakh around 1 PM local time Tuesday as part of what they falsely called “anti-terrorist activities.” Baku has indicated it will continue strikes until Stepanakert surrenders.

Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian forces “must raise the white flag, all weapons must be handed over, and (the Nagorno-Karabakh government) must be dissolved,” President Ilham Aliyev’s office said Tuesday evening. “Otherwise, the antiterror measures will be continued until the end.”

Azerbaijan’s attack came after Nagorno-Karabakh endured more than nine months of near-total isolation from the outside world. Azerbaijan’s blockade has pushed Nagorno-Karabakh’s roughly 120,000 Armenians to the brink of famine and prompted warnings of genocide from the former chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court.

What’s been the response in Armenia?

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said Tuesday Armenia will continue to press Azerbaijan to “ensure the rights and security of Nagorno-Karabakh’s people,” but insisted Yerevan will not intervene militarily, saying, “Attempts to engage Armenia in this military escalation are unacceptable.”

Mass protests broke out in downtown Yerevan Tuesday evening in front of Armenian government buildings, the Russian embassy, and the prime minister’s residence, with hundreds of demonstrators calling on Pashinyan to resign and Russia to respond more forcefully to Azerbaijan’s attack on Nagorno-Karabakh.

Protesters scuffled with police officers posted to government buildings and blocked the entrances and exits to the Russian embassy. CivilNet’s team on the ground reported law enforcement used stun grenades on the demonstrators in at least one case.

18 protesters and 16 police officers suffered injuries in the clashes in Yerevan, according to Armenia’s Health Ministry.

Armenia’s National Security Service issued a statement pledging to “take effective, lawful measures to preserve the country’s constitutional order” and “neutralize any actions that destabilize Armenia’s internal security.”

What’s been the international response?

The powerful United Nations Security Council will hold emergency talks on the crisis Thursday after permanent member France requested the body to convene.

Two previous emergency sessions, one last December and one in August, ended with the council failing to adopt a joint statement or binding resolution, reportedly amid diplomatic infighting between member countries.

The European Union, France, Germany, and the United States have all called on Azerbaijan to refrain from taking any further military action in the region. Russia has called on the “conflicting sides” to cease hostilities immediately, but did not single out Azerbaijan.

The European Union and United States together support one track of Armenia-Azerbaijan negotiations, while Russia coordinates a separate track. Neither has made any discernible progress toward a peace deal.