The Azerbaijani side is doing everything in its power to capture the symbolic fortress town of Shushi. This evening, during his regular press briefing, Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Defense Ministry said that Azerbaijan has brought new forces into play and has been able to advance closer to Shushi. He said that it is the third day now that intense battles have been taking place around the city, including in Karin Tak and Lisagor. “As these battles are unfolding and the city is fighting till the end, it is our duty to trust Armenian servicemen,” Hovhannisyan said.
Here is a chronology of official updates.
9:50 a.m.: Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan, announced that, at approximately 6:45 a.m., the air defense units of the Defense Army shot down an Azerbaijani UAV in the eastern direction of the front line.
10:30 a.m.: The Artsakh Defense Ministry reported that military operations continued along the entire length of the front line overnight. The most intense battles took place in the Shushi-Karin Tak area. According to the Ministry, units of the Artsakh Defense Army suppressed the Azerbaijani offensives and inflicted significant human losses.
The operative-tactical situation in all directions of the front line remained unchanged. According to the announcement, the Azerbaijan side also targeted peaceful settlements with missile and artillery systems. Moreover, in the southeastern and southern directions, the Defense Army destroyed two vehicles transporting personnel of Azerbaijani forces, as well as four UAVs.
The attempts by the Azerbaijani forces continue in the main directions. The units of the Defense Army are taking the necessary measures to suppress, to detect and destroy the Azerbaijani invaders.
10:35 a.m.: Vahram Poghosyan, the spokesperson for Artsakh’s President, announced that news being disseminated by the Azerbaijani side about the death of Colonel General Seyran Ohanyan is not true and is another falsification of the Azerbaijani propaganda effort. ”Of course, the adversary has serious reasons to share that information since they were served yet another lesson from General Ohanyan that was very painful and I’m sure they will be served another one as Ohanyan is alive and healthy and is fulfilling his responsibilities,” Poghosyan said.
12:30 p.m.: The Armenian embassy in Italy wrote in a Facebook post that the Nogaredo community in the Trentino province of Italy recognized the independence of Artsakh.
2:30 p.m.: Today, Artsakh’s President Arayik Harutyunyan welcomed volunteers from the Armenian community of Abkhazia who have arrived in Artsakh to fight for their homeland. “The boys came to Artsakh to fight with their brothers on the battlefield, to make their personal contribution to the sacred cause of defending our homeland, perfectly realizing the situation. It is encouraging that our diasporan Armenian compatriots are joining us these days. The real guarantor of our success in defeating the enemy is to have each other’s back,” Harutyunyan said.
“Slightest Encroachment on Iran Will Receive an Appropriate Response”
5 p.m.: Abolfazl Shekarchi, a senior spokesman for the Iranian Armed Forces, said that Iran has land borders with both of the conflicting sides, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and that the security of its citizens living in border communities is a priority. He stressed that even the slightest encroachment on Iran will receive an appropriate response. Shekarchi went on to say that Iran demands the conflicting parties to not allow Takfiri terrorists and Zionists into the region. “These two issues are very fundamental for us, the conflicting countries must pay serious attention to this issue,” he said. “Otherwise, the country that opens the way for Takfiri and Zionist mercenaries will be responsible for the consequences.”
6 p.m.: According to the Armenian Unified Infocenter, Stepanakert is being shelled with Grad and Smerch rocket launchers. No reports on casualties.
6:30 p.m.: French Ambassador to Armenia Jonathan Lacôte wrote the following on his Facebook Page:
In response to the humanitarian needs expressed by the Armenian authorities in the context of the armed conflict in Nagorno Karabakh, France is setting up emergency medical aid for the benefit of the health system of the Republic of Armenia, through a mission of surgeons specialized in the areas of orthopedics and reconstruction, and several deliveries of medical equipment and supplies.
This aid illustrates France's solidarity with the victims of the conflict.
This assistance is in addition to the assistance provided by many French territorial authorities.
8:05 p.m.: Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Defense Ministry wrote: Heavy battles are continuing in the north, toward Martuni; south of Shushi, Armenian forces have registered successes.
9:25 p.m.: Artsrun Hovhannisyan: Heavy battles are continuing in the immediate vicinity of Shushi.
Defense Ministry Live Press Briefing
10 p.m.: During a live press briefing, Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Ministry of Defense said battles continue in different directions of the front line, in the surrounding areas of Shushi and on the roads leading to the city. Azerbaijani forces managed to come closer to the city. Hovhannisyan noted that, although Armenian forces are defending the city, the adversary continues to try to invade Shushi by calling in reinforcements. At the moment, Armenian forces are persistently resisting, causing significant losses to the adversary, but the battles are intense and ongoing.
It is already the third day that the battles continue in the surrounding areas of Shushi. Battles also take place in communities close to Shushi, including Karin Tak, Lisagor, etc. “And as these battles are unfolding, and the city is fighting till the end, it is our duty to trust Armenian servicemen and other observations are not appropriate at the moment,” added Hovhannisyan. He went on to say that any information about evacuations, about Armenian forces retreating and aimed at spreading panic is not appropriate. Even if Armenian forces are retreating in certain areas, it is important to stress that the armed forces should maintain their combat readiness, to be able to register success after strong resistance.
Today, battles took place in other directions as well. Azerbaijani forces tried to launch an attack against Martuni using armored vehicles but were pushed back after losing one or two armored vehicles. Military operations also took place in the south of Berdzor and Armenian forces managed to improve their positions. Although active military operations did not take place in other directions, Azerbaijani forces continued to use artillery against peaceful settlements and military positions.
While answering reporters' questions, Hovhannisyan once again urged people not to spread panic. He also urged against jumping to assumptions and conclusions regarding the situation on the front line based on information they get from contacts there. Hovhannisyan said that they receive information from about a 1000 km long front line and that is the situation the Defense Ministry represents.
Regarding the death of servicemen whose names have been shared online by relatives and who have already been put to rest but whose names have not been officially announced, Hovhannisyan said that it might be a shortcoming that needs to be addressed.
Hovhannisyan also said that, during the day, there was artillery shelling and small attempts of reconnaissance groups in the border area between Armenia’s Tavush region and the Karvajar region but in general, the situation is relatively calm. He also reassured that the situation in Davit Bek village in Syunik region is under control and Armenian forces are fulfilling their duties.
Arman Tatoyan and Artak Beglaryan Joint Report
The Human Rights Defender of Armenia and the Human Rights Ombudsman of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) published an ad hoc report on the use of incendiary ammunition of mass destruction (incendiary weapon) containing chemical elements (possibly white phosphorus) against Artsakh by the Azerbaijani armed forces.
Findings of the report are based on presented evidence (photos of civilians’ body injuries, map illustrations, etc.). Specific findings are based on studies of the Military Medicine Faculty of Mkhitar Heratsi Yerevan State Medical University.
Joint studies by the two human rights institutions proved that the incendiary ammunition was used against civilian objects and forests of Artsakh, causing severe long-term damage to the peaceful population and environment.
In many cases where forests were targeted with incendiary ammunition, civilian communities (e.g. Nngi, Sghnakh, Aknaghbyur, Taghavard, Togh, Qarin Tak) are nearby, sometimes within only 100 meters. Hence, the issue is also related to the inevitable long-term impact on the health of the civilian population.
The joint fact-finding missions of the two Human Rights Defenders revealed that overall approximately 1815 hectares of forest area were damaged, spanning almost all the regions of Artsakh. Considering the specificities of the ammunition, this number may increase, even if its further use is discontinued.
Moreover, it was also reported that, in civilian communities (e.g. Nngi, Taghavard, Aknaghbyur), vital civilian objects (e.g. gas pipelines) were destroyed.
The ad hoc report established at least the following facts, irrespective of the specific type of chemical element used in the ammunition:
1) the ammunition used was meant for mass destruction;
2) the ammunition contained chemical elements;
3) the ammunition was used to target forests, causing wildfires and severe long-term damage to the environment;
4) according to expert assessments, the fire caused by this type of weapon is resistant to usual extinguishing agents including water;
5) the forests where this ammunition was used are located close to civilian communities;
6) according to fact-finding activities, civilians who had sought shelter from Azerbaijani attacks in the forests were likely injured from the use of the ammunition;
7) the use of this ammunition against civilian objects is prohibited by international law and may entail a war crime.