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Escalation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone: interim report

The situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone remains tense. As Artsrun Hovhannisyan, the spokesman for the Armenian Ministry of Defense reports, fights are continuing on the Line of Contact. He also asks not to disseminate disinformation on mobilization in Armenia or on losses of the Armenian side, which is not true, he says in his Facebook account.

Reports from the frontline are scarce and incomplete. Reportedly, the Azerbaijani side has lost two helicopters, 3 tanks, 2 drones and 3 armored personnel carriers. Assessments of human losses of the Azerbaijani side vary: from 40 to 50 persons, almost all of them are the military men, mostly from special forces, including a special raiding detachment.

Information of losses of the Armenian side is unavailable. There is no data on shot military machines, but there are incomplete reports on losses of the Nagorno-Karabakh army. In particular, Archbishop Pargev Martirosyan, the current Primate of the Diocese of Artsakh (Karabakh) of the Armenian Apostolic Church, said that he knows about at least three victims and 15 wounded people after an artillery attack from the Azerbaijani side. He said the victims are fighters of the NKR Defense Army. Evidently, the data is not final.

Besides, there have been reports on losses among civilians, due to massive shelling, residential buildings were destroyed in Armenian villages, victims and injuries reported. A witness has told EADaily that a bomb was thrown upon a school, Talish and Madagis were completely destroyed. Some Azerbaijani villages were partially or fully evacuated.

The most intensive fighting was fixed in south- and north-eastern directions, towards Agdam, where the Azerbaijani forces were forced to retreat while suffering severe losses.

Armenia is also leading in the information campaign: reports on the attack launched by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces started appearing in local newslines since the very beginning of the morning. The Azerbaijani media, in turn, kept silent up to 11:00 a.m. and after that they disseminated a statement of the Defense Ministry saying there was no offensive, but on the contrary: “It was caused by shelling at villages from the Armenian side. In order to restrain the enemy and prevent from escalating its activity, reciprocal measures were taken,” the statement runs.

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At the same time, several Azerbaijani media like haqqin.az were reporting clearly that the Azerbaijani troops on the night of April 2 launched an offensive in several directions in the Karabakh conflict zone using air forces and artillery (EADaily has a screenshot of the report). Such an “acknowledgement” together with the massive of text information and comments from the scene made the general picture evident.

Later last night, Azerbaijan admitted it had lost a helicopter and 12 troops. Simultaneously, the Azerbaijani defense ministry said that while striking the Armenian positions they lost a Mi-24 helicopter and a tank. They also reported that during the fighting they liquidated six Armenian tanks, 15 artillery mounts and over 100 troops.

As Artsrun Hovhannisyan said in Facebook, the figures had nothing in common with the reality.

The OSCE and CSTO commented on the situation. In particular, OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs expressed their concern over reports on large-scale ceasefire violation on the line of contact.

The statement made by the CSTO was more addressed and certain. Azerbaijan’s actions will only bring about worsening of the situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, said CSTO spokesman Vladimir Zaynetdinov commenting on the recent developments. He said everything must be settled through talks.

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini also said she was concerned and called all the parties to stop the ceasefire violation. Several hours before Mogherini, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was upset by the situation in the Karabakh conflict zone that turned into an armed conflict and called the parties in the conflict to immediate ceasefire.

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