south front for tuesday

Armenia Shows Turkish Bayraktar TB2 Drone Downed In Karabakh
South Front, Oct 20 2020

On Oct 20, the Armenian Defense Ministry released photos of a Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 combat drone downed in the Nagorno-Karabakh combat zone. Drones are allegedly operated by the Azerbaijani military, but most likely drone operations are run with a direct help from Turkish specialists. A spokesperson for the Armenian Defense Ministry rushed to troll the Azerbaijani military in Twitter:

This is the second time, when the Armenian side appeared to be able to confirm that the Azerbaijani-Turkish bloc lost a Bayraktar TB2 in Karabakh. On Oct 19, Armenian sources released part of the Bayraktar TB2 optic system saying that a drone was downed by Armenian forces:

It remains unclear how many Bayraktar TB2 drones were really downed by the Armenians.

Armenia Declares Large-Scale Counter-Attack In Southern Karabakh
As Ilham Aliyev Makes Victorious Address To Nation

South Front, Oct 20 2020

On Oct 20, Aliyev announced new gains of his forces in the ongoing Azerbaijani-Armenian war in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. According to the Azerbaijani President, Armenian forces lost Dordchinar, Kurdlar, Yukhari Abdurrahmanli, Garghabazar, Ashaghi Veysalli, Yukhari Aybasanli villages in the Fuzuli district, Safarsha, Hasangaydi, Fughanli, Imambaghi, Dash Veysalli, Aghtapa, Yarahmadli villages in the Jabrayil district, Aghjakand, Mulkudara, Dashbashi, Gunashli, Vang villages in the Khojavand district, Havali, Zarnali, Mammadbayli, Hakari, Sharifan, Mughanli villages in the Zangilan district. The town of Zangilan was also captured by Azerbaijani forces, Aliyev emphasized. Previously, Aliyev announced the capturing of the towns of Jabrayil and Fuzuli, and the Hadrut settlement, as well as more than 50 villages.

Artillery units of Azerbaijan in the conflict zone

During the Oct 20 address, the leader of Azerbaijan also named the official Azerbaijani version regarding the losses and casualties of Armenian forces.

Destroyed:

  • Battle tanks – 241
  • BMP – 50,
  • self-propelled artillery – 17,
  • artillery guns – 198,
  • mortars – 58,
  • anti-tank weapons – 53
  • Grad multiple launch rocket systems – 70
  • Uragan multiple launch rocket systems – 2
  • Yars systems (likely some kind of rocket launchers) – 2
  • TOS flamethrower system – 1
  • S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems – 4
  • TOR surface-to-air missile systems – 3
  • Kub and Krug air defense systems – 5
  • UAVs – 6
  • Elbrus tactical missile systems – 2
  • Tochka-U tactical missile system – 1
  • electronic warfare systems – 8
  • trucks – 198

Captured:

  • Battle tanks captured – 39
  • BMP captured – 24,
  • mortars captured – 12
  • grenade launchers captured – 25
  • trucks – 102


Azerbaijani strikes

Meanwhile, the Armenian side insists that its forces have been developing a major counter-offensive in the southern part of the Nagorno-Karabakh region. A spokesperson for the Armenian defense ministry even claimed that Azerbaijani forces are now on retreat there.

The Armenian side also released own vision of the current situation. According to it, Azerbaijani forces suffered 6,309 casualties, lost 576 armoured vehicles, 4 TOS systems, 23 military planes, 16 helicopters and 200 UAVs.

Pro-Armenian sources say that Zangilan became a ‘trap’ for Azerbaijani troops and a arge group of the ‘enemy forces’ is now being eliminated there. Nonetheless, they have released little video evidence to confirm this claim. Nonetheless, the fact of intense clashes there can hardly be denied:

Armenian artillery

Combat cartoons are also employed

The Azerbaijan Defense Ministry says that Armenians spread fake news:

The news about Khudaferin disseminated by the Armenian side is misinformation
The news spread by the Armenian ministry of defense that military operations are being conducted in the Khudaferin direction is nonsense and does not even require comments. This is misinformation intended to reduce partially the fear prevailing in the Armenian society.

Despite some formal diplomatic rhetoric, Azerbaijan shows no signs of its willingness to accept any real ceasefire with Armenian forces. Instead, it seeks to deliver a devastating blow to them and force them to surrender. The current Armenian counter-attack in the south will not likely change the strategic situation in the conflict as it’s the fact that Turkish-Azerbaijani bloc has more resources for the war. Nonetheless, it could help Armenian forces to gain additional time to set up additional defense lines deeper inside the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijan Captures More Villages, As Armenia Claims It’s Repelling Attacks
South Front, Oct 20 2020

On Oct 19th and continuing, fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia continued for Nagorno-Karabakh. There seems to be no prospect of a ceasefire. The Armenian side reported that since Oct 8, an additional 8 Azerbaijani UAVs, 12 armored vehicles had been destroyed and 150 soldiers had been killed. The total sits at nearly 200 UAVs, 16 helicopters, 22 warplanes, 566 armored vehicles, including tanks.

The total victim count according to the Armenian side sits at 6,259 Azerbaijani soldiers. On the other hand, Armenia hasn’t admitted to losing any equipment, and has, according to their official propaganda, lost 729 soldiers. Meaning that Azerbaijan has lost nearly 9 times more people, if these numbers are to be trusted.

Artsakh President’s Press Secretary Vahram Poghosyan said:

Today, in the north of the country, the enemy suffered significant losses in manpower, and stubborn battles continued in the south. Artsakh, unconditionally supported by the Armenian people, has been heroically opposing the triple alliance of Turkey, Azerbaijan and terrorists for more than three weeks.

On the side of Azerbaijan, gains continue being made with President Ilham Aliyev claiming that Azerbaijani forces had captured 13 villages in the Jabrayil district. Aliyev has made a post on his official Twitter account stating:

Soltanli, Amirvarli, Mashanli, Hasanli, Alikeykhanli, Gumlag, Hajili, Goyarchinveysalli, Niyazgullar, Kechal Mammadli, Shahvalli, Haji Ismayilli, Isagli villages of Jabrayil district were liberated. Karabakh is Azerbaijan!

Azerbaijan releases daily reports of the situation on the front-line, with reports of what was destroyed. These are the reports over the past few days. Note that Azerbaijan simply says some soldiers were killed, but seldom provides any specific number:

  • Oct 19: a number of troops, 2 T-72 tanks, 4 BM-21 “Grad” MLRS, 1 D-30 gun-howitzer, and 5 auto vehicles of the enemy were destroyed and wrecked in different directions of the front.
  • Oct 18: a number of enemy troops, 2 T-72 tanks, 2 BM-21 “Grad” MLRS, 1 D-30, and 1 D-20 gun-howitzers, and 11 auto vehicles were destroyed and wrecked in different directions of the front.
  • Oct 17: enemy manpower, 2 missile guiding stations of the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system, 5 T-72 tanks, 3 BM-21 “Grad” MLRS, 2 “Smerch” MLRS, 1 D-20 gun-howitzer, 1 KS-19 anti-aircraft gun, and 6 vehicles were destroyed and disabled in different directions of the front.


On the diplomatic front, Pashinyan and Aliyev have expressed readiness to meet and negotiate in Moscow. Asked whether he is ready to meet with the Azerbaijani leader in Moscow with the mediation of Russia, Pashinyan said:

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be resolved exclusively by peaceful means. And I am ready to make all the necessary efforts to achieve such a result, including to go, meet, talk.

Aliyev told TASS in a parallel interview:

We are ready to meet in Moscow and in any other place in order to put an end to the confrontation and find ways of settlement. We are ready for any contacts. But in this case, I did not receive such an invitation, so this question is not for me. Many times, Putin personally and Medvedev before him held trilateral meetings between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan. But after the power in Armenia passed into the hands of the conditional Soros, such contacts stopped.

At the same time, he stressed that Baku is ready to quickly suspend hostilities if Yerevan’s position in the negotiations is constructive. France is likely to also vote on recognizing Artsakh as an independent republic, as such doing Armenia’s job, which is still shying away from undertaking that step.

Last Stand Of Armenian Forces In Battle For Nagorno-Karabakh
South Front, Oct 20 2020

Armenian troops captured a T-72 of Azerbaijan.

The Azerbaijani Armed Forces have been developing their advance on Armenian positions in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region. Recently, they captured 13 more villages in the Jabrayil district. The capturing of Soltanli, Amirvarli, Mashanli, Hasanli, Alikeykhanli, Gumlag, Hajili, Goyarchinveysalli, Niyazgullar, Kechal Mammadli, Shahvalli, Haji Ismayilli, Isagli was personally announced by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. Azerbaijani forces also reached the town of Tumas and engaged Armenian units deployed there. Pro-Azerbaijani sources insist that the town fell into the hands of Baku already.


Weapons and ammunition captured by Azerbaijani forces

The country’s defense ministry claims that in the recent clashes that Azerbaijani forces destroyed a number of enemy troops, and at least 2 T-72 tanks, 2 BM-21 “Grad” MLRS, 1 D-30, and 1 D-20 gun-howitzers, and 11 auto vehicles.

On Oct 19, pro-Armenian sources for the first time provide a video evidence that they had shot down at least one of Bayraktar TB2 combat drones operated by the Azerbaijani military and Turkish specialists. Meanwhile, the Armenian Defense Ministry claimed that 5 unmanned aerial vehicles were shot down during the evening of that day only. According to the Armenian side, the total number of Azerbaijani casualties in the war reached 6,259. 195 UAVs, 16 helicopters, 22 military planes, 566 armoured vehicles, 4 multiple rocket launchers of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan were allegedly destroyed.

A part of the allegedly downed Bayraktar-TB2 drone

Yerevan claims that Armenian forces have repelled two powerful attacks in the northern part of Karabakh, while intense fighting has been ongoing in the south. Nonetheless, Armenian military officials avoid confirming the recent Azerbaijani advances and insist that the recent developments are just a part of the modern maneuverable warfare. By these claims, the political leadership of Armenia tries to hide that the Azerbaijani advance along the Iranian border faced little resistance. The Azerbaijani progress was mostly complicated by a limited number of mobile Armenian units, which were avoiding a direct confrontation and focusing on ambushes and mine warfare. According to reports, the Armenian side is now reinforcing its positions in the area of the Akari River seeking to prevent the further Azerbaijani advance towards the Armenian state border and the Lachin corridor. On the other hand, the goal of the Azerbaijani-Turkish bloc is to overcome this resistance and to develop the current momentum to reach the Lachin mountain pass thus threatening to cut off the shortest route between Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh. In the event of the success, this would predetermine the Azerbaijani victory in the war.

Taking into account the advantage of the Azerbaijani-Turkish bloc in manpower, artillery, heavy military equipment and, the most important, their air dominance, Armenian forces have a limited number of options to repel the ongoing attack into the heart of the Nagorno-Karbakh region. In the coming weeks, Armenian forces will likely increase engineering works on their main defense lines simultaneously conducting regular counter-attacks with maneuverable units on the advancing Azerbaijani forces. In these conditions, ambushes, mine warfare, anti-tank guided missile strike and sniper work will be the main weapons of the Armenian side. Armenian units will also avoid a direct confrontation with overwhelming forces of Azerbaijan to avoid additional ‘not needed’ casualties. It should be noted that the mountainous terrain will play into the hands of the Armenians. If they are able to create a network of fortified points surrounded by mine fields and employ the needed counter-drone measures (by deploying additional air-defense means and increasing the work to cover positions of its artillery and logistical points), they will increase their chances to slow down or even stop the Azerbaijani advance in the most important directions.


Armenian forces strike advancing Azerbaijani units

Azerbaijani troops are in Mataghis

The military hostilities are ongoing amid another round of the international diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the situation and return the sides to the negotiating table. President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan declared that they are ready to meet in Moscow. The Azerbaijani leader even said that his country is ready to halt the operation if Armenia demonstrates a constructive approach. Nonetheless, the ‘constructive approach of Armenia’ in the view of Azerbaijan is the full and public surrender of Karabakh. Such an agreement will mark the collapse of the current political leadership of Armenia and unlikely to be accepted. Therefore, the war will likely continue until the military victory of one of the sides and this side would likely be Azerbaijan. Baku has already achieved an impressive breakthrough on the frontline if one compares the current situation with local military escalations of the previous years.

As to Armenia, it will not likely be able to turn the tide of the conflict if it continues limiting its response to indirect support of forces of the Republic of Artsakh instead of a direct military action to repel the Azerbaijani-Turkish bloc. Clashes of the previous weeks already demonstrated that Baku has an upper hand in the current format of the military standoff in Karabakh. Therefore, if Yerevan really wants to change something, it should change the rules of the game even if this would create additional risks for Armenia itself.

Weapons Of Karabakh War: 2S3 Akatsiya Self-Propelled Howitzer
South Front, Oct 20 2020

The 2S3 Akatsiya is a Russian-made 152 mm self-propelled howitzer tracked armored vehicle. The first two prototypes of the 2S3 were completed by late 1968 and testing continued through to 1969 but problems were encountered with contamination in the turret so an additional four improved systems were built. The system was accepted for service with the Russian army in December 1971 although production had commenced the previous year. The 152mm 2S3 Akatsiya is designed to engage enemy personnel in the open and under shelter and to wipe out the adversary’s weapons, military equipment and other targets to the depth of a division limit of advance. The 2S3 is always in service in the Russian armed forces and is used by several other countries in the world. Two of these countries are Armenia and Azerbaijan, who both use the weapon system against each other in Nagorno-Karabakh. The 2S3 Akatsiya is armed with the 2A33 152mm howitzer, which is a modified variant of the D-20 towed howitzer but with a bore evacuator added behind the muzzle brake. The barrel has a double-baffle muzzle brake, fume extractor and a gun barrel traveling lock. The 2S3 Akatsiya can fire at a rate of 30 rounds in 10 minutes or 75 rounds per hour.

The 2S3 can fire a wide range of ammunition including the HE-FRAG OF-540, which is fitted with an RGM-2 fuze, weighs 43.5 kg, contains 5.76 kg of TNT, has a maximum muzzle velocity of 655 m/s and a maximum range of 18.5 km. Other types of projectiles fired include BP-540 HEAT-FS (also referred to as HEAT-SS, for spin-stabilised), HE/RAP (High-Explosive Rocket-Assisted Projectile) with a range of 24,000 m, AP-T, illuminating, smoke, incendiary, flechette, scatterable mines (anti-tank and anti-personnel) and the Krasnopol laser-designated projectile covered in the entry for the 152 mm 2S19. The 152 mm gun has an elevation of +60° and depression of -4°. Driver’s and engine-transmission compartments are located in a front part of a hull, fighting compartment with rotatory turret, in middle and rear parts of the hull. A single door is mounted to the right side of the turret. The hull bottom carries a turntable mounted on a ball race resting on five rollers. The 152.4 mm L/27 howitzer D-22 (2A33) can be elevated from -4° to +60° with a turret traverse of a full 360°. The all-welded steel hull of the 2S3 provides protection for the crew against the firing of small arms and shell splinters. The 2S3 has infra-red night vision equipment and an NBC system. According to Russian sources, the NBC system also keeps the turret clear of fumes when the gun is fired. An infrared searchlight is mounted to the left of a 7.62 mm machine gun. Earthmoving equipment is attached to the front part of the hull allows the 2S3 to self-dig hull-down protected position. The 2S3 Akatsiya can cross 0.7 m high vertical obstacles, 3.0 m wide trenches, 1.05 m fording depth, and climb 30° gradients. Two vehicles can be transported by the military transport aircraft Antonov An-22.

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