The battle for Shushi continues to be bloody. Azerbaijani forces brought in additional reinforcements in an attempt to capture the strategic and symbolic fortress city ahead of Azerbaijan’s State Flag Day, which falls on November 9. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev claimed today that his forces had been able to capture the town. This was refuted by the Armenian side. During his live press briefing, Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Defense Ministry said that the coming days will be decisive and he was hopeful that by tomorrow the Armenian side’s victory would be conclusive.
Here is a chronology of official updates.
8:50 a.m.: Arayik Harutyunyan, the President of Artsakh, wrote the following on his Facebook Page:
“I met one of the hardest dawns of my life in Stepanakert's Renaissance Square… We stand with the defenders of our Motherland till the end. The life and death struggle continues.”
9:35 a.m.: According to Artsakh’s State Service of Emergency Situations, the situation was especially tense in Stepanakert overnight. Eight long-range missiles were fired at apartment buildings, residential areas, public facilities and other civilian infrastructure in the city. No casualties have been reported. The situation in other settlements was relatively calm.
9:50 a.m.: Artsakh’s State Service of Emergency Situations reported that Shushi remains the unattainable dream of Azerbaijani forces. Although there is much destruction in the city, Shushi withstands the attacks of the adversary.
10:05 a.m.: According to Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan, battles of varying intensity continued along the entire length of the front line overnight. Military operations were especially intense in the surrounding areas of Shushi and in the southeast. Artsakh Defense Army units delivered targeted attacks on the adversary, repelling multiple attempts to advance.
During the battles, a large number of Azerbaijani forces, four tanks, 20 armored vehicles, 11 vehicles and two UAVs were destroyed. Along with the military operations, Azerbaijani forces targeted Stepanakert and Shushi using missile and artillery systems. Civilian infrastructure was damaged.
In the early morning hours, the Armenian side noticed that Azerbaijani forces were accumulating equipment and personnel in the southeast and northeast of the front line. The operative-tactical situation remains under the control of the Defense Army.
11:30 a.m.: Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Defense Ministry wrote: Heavy and decisive battles are continuing for Shushi, victory to our heroes.
11:45 a.m.: Shushan Stepanyan of the Defense Ministry said that the Air Defense Units of the Artsakh Defense Army downed two Azerbaijani UAVs in the eastern direction.
1:30 p.m.: Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Defense Ministry wrote that battles are continuing, “wait and believe in our forces.”
1:30 p.m.: The Prosecutor General’s Office issued a statement reminding that, after the military political leadership of Azerbaijan waged an aggressive war against the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh, in violation of the requirement of a number of international agreements, two citizens of Syria, Mehrab Muhammad Al-Shkheir and Yusuf Alaabet al-Hajji were arrested.
As part of the fight against international terrorism, the Prosecutor General’s Office is ready to cooperate with the foreign diplomatic missions accredited in Armenia and international organizations specialized in the fight against international terrorism and organize a contact with the detainees. The Prosecutor’s Office is also ready to provide additional information about the charges brought against them.
2:27 p.m.: According to Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan, around 1:40 p.m., the Air Defense Units of the Artsakh Defense Army downed another Bayraktar UAV in the southeastern direction.
2:56 p.m.: Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Defense Ministry wrote: the battles continue.
4:15 p.m.: According to Ria Novosti, Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu visited Baku, Azerbaijan on November 8. According to the announcement, the ministers met with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.
5 p.m.: Artsakh’s Human Rights Ombudsman discussing Azerbaijani war crimes against civilians in Artsakh, destruction of Stepanakert’s music school and other infrastructure in the city.
6:20 p.m.: According to the Artsakh Infocenter, Artsrun Hovhannisyan announced that slightly more intensive battles are taking place in the direction of Martuni but those are not as intense as the ones in Shushi. “We have initiated 1 or 2 offensives. There is stability in that direction,” Hovhannisyan said.
6:45 p.m.: Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Defense Ministry said that battles are continuing near and in Shushi and asked that everyone wait for official information and refrain from making any evaluations or assumptions.
My new #video message & introduction on the recent #WarCrimes of #Azerbaijan against #Artsakh/#Karabakh people, destructing the #Stepanakert music school & other civilian buildings.— Artak Beglaryan (@Artak_Beglaryan) November 8, 2020
My messages are:
- We'll continue our struggle for our #HumanRights by the end! pic.twitter.com/q2a1LK3rXG
7 p.m.: Artsakh’s State Service of Emergency Situations reported that, throughout the day, the situation in civilian settlements was stable but tense. The situation in Stepanakert was calm until 6:30 p.m., when it came under shelling again. One wounded civilian was treated by first responders and transferred to hospital.
Air raid sirens went on twice in Martakert as the Azerbaijani air force tried to bomb the city. In Martuni, the situation was also tense; the Azerbaijani side used heavy artillery and shelled civilian infrastructure in the afternoon. The situation remained relatively calm in the regions of Askeran, Kashatagh and Shahumyan.
8:35 p.m.: Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan announced that, around 7:30 p.m., the Air Defense Units of Artsakh’s Defense Army downed two Azerbaijani UAVs northwest of Stepanakert. The situation on the front line remains tense and there is exchange of artillery and mortar fire. Stepanyan said that the Defense Army, detecting a convoy of the adversary in the southeastern direction, opened fire causing significant human and equipment losses.
Ministry of Defense Live Press Briefing
10 p.m.: During a live press briefing, Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Ministry of Defense said that the situation on the front line remains tense. Battles continued along the entire length of the front line overnight and throughout the day. In the north, small Azerbaijani groups tried to launch an attack towards Armenian positions with the help of artillery fire but were pushed back after suffering significant losses. Early in the morning, Defense Army units managed to suspend the advancements of Azerbaijani forces in the direction of Martuni. Battles were also tense in Shushi as well as in the surrounding areas of the city. Although the intensity of battles has substantially decreased, battles are ongoing in certain parts of the city. Hovhannisyan noted that the situation was also tense in the direction of Berdzor, where Azerbaijani forces attempted to launch attacks multiple times (most probably forces near Berdzor wanted to help Azerbaijani forces near Shushi). Battles are ongoing but the Armenian forces are repelling the advancements of the adversary. Hovhannisyan reminded that battles for Shushi are ongoing for the third or fourth day in a row.
While answering reporters’ questions, Artsrun Hovhannisyan once again urged not to spread panic regarding the statements from the Azerbaijani side. “Our army is fighting selflessly, our commanders even violating the rules of tactics and logic, take up their arms and fight with their soldiers and down adversary’s tanks and armored vehicles. They successfully fight with their soldiers till the last bullet. Hence I ask you not to hurry, wait for the official news, and wait for the end of the battle of Shushi which I’m sure our army will end with glory and we will win, I am sure. Trust our army and wait,” Hovhannisyan said. He went on to say that the Azerbaijani side tried to attack Martuni twice with a large amount of equipment and groups - one was in the direction of Jartar and other to Martuni. However, the Azerbaijani forces were successfully pushed back by the Defense Army of Artsakh. Hovhannisyan also said that, by analyzing operative situations in Shushi, the methods and forces of the Azerbaijani side, he can say that it will hopefully end tomorrow.
Armenia’s National Security Service Director Dismissed
According to Armenpress, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has submitted a proposal to President Armen Sarkissian to dismiss the acting Director of the National Security Service, Colonel Mikayel Hambardzumyan.
Colonel Mikayel Hambardzumyan was appointed deputy director of the NSS in August 2020 according to a presidential decree. On October 8, 2020, he was appointed the acting Director of the NSS.
Based on Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s proposal, President Armen Sarkissian signed a decree appointing Armen Abazyan as the new Director of the National Security Service.
Request to ECtHR to Protect the Rights of Armenian Servicemen in Azerbaijani Captivity
Lawyers Artak Zeynalyan and Siranush Sahakyan submitted a case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) regarding the protection of the rights of six Armenian servicemen who are in Azerbaijani captivity following the large scale war unleashed by Azerbaijan against Artsakh. The captives are Samvel Knyazyan, Samvel Qastakcyan, Hovsep Sahakyan, Vahe Abrahamyan, Gegham Elbakyan and Norik Araqelyan.
The servicemen were identified based on the videos spread by Azerbaijani media as well as messages and calls sent from their phones to their family members. A request was submitted to the Court on behalf of the family members of Armenian servicemen to apply interim measures in order to protect their right to life and the right to not be treated in an inhuman or degrading way.
The European Court has required the Azerbaijani government to submit information about their whereabouts, the conditions in which they are kept and the medical care provided to them. Azerbaijan is required to submit information by November 13, 2020.