south front for thursday

Azerbaijani Forces Allegedly Hit Civilian Houses In Iran
South Front, Oct 22 2020

Azerbaijani military fire has hit several civilian houses within Iran’s territory, Iranian and Armenian sources reported on Oct 22. Azariha, an Iranian news channel on Telegram, released a video allegedly showing the aftermath of Azerbaijani artillery strikes on Iran’s territory. The video is yet to be verified. The Telegram channel said in a post:

Instead of deploying their forces in north-southern direction, Baku deployed the forces in eastern-western direction. On the other hand the Azeris are sending drones to Iran and deployed terrorists at the border with Iran.

Iran’s territory has been hit by fire from both Armenian and Azerbaijani sides on several occasions since the outbreak of the battle in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh on Sep 27. No human losses were reported. Furthermore, a number of Azerbaijani drones and loitering munitions were shot down or crashed after violating Iran’s airspace. Iran warned both Armenia and Azerbaijan against violating its sovereignty. Nevertheless, the Iranian military is yet to respond to any violation. Tehran, which has a large Azeri population and enjoys close relations with Armenia, is likely trying to maintain a neutral stand on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Azerbaijani-Armenian War Map: Military Situation In Nagorno-Karabakh Region
South Front, Oct 22 2020

The Armenian-Azerbaijani war in the Nagorno-Karabakh region has been ongoing since Sep 27.

  • Aliyev announced that Azerbaijani forces took control of 23 new villages in the south of Karabakh;
  • Armenian artillery reportedly shelled the Terter area;
  • Azerbaijan artillery reportedly shelled the Martuni area;
  • Clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenian forces continue in areas near Iran’s border;
  • According to Aerbaijan MoD, the Armenian military launched 3 ballistic missiles on the Siyazan region, 2 on the Gabala region, and 1 on the Kurdamir region. Armenia denies this;
  • Azerbaiajni forces shot down 2 Armenian UAVs in the Fizuli area and another one in the Terter area.

Azerbaijani Military Destroyed Armenian S-125 Air-Defense System With Loitering Munition
South Front, Oct 22 2020

The Azerbaijani military has destroyed the fire control radar of an Armenian S-125 “Pechora” short-range air-defense system. On Oct 22, the Caliber AZ channel on YouTube shared a video showing a loitering munition targeting the SNR-125 “Low Blow” radar. The targeted system was allegedly located within the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The SNR-125, the heart of the S-125 system, is a 250 kW I/D-band tracking, fire control and guidance radar with a range of 40 km to 80 km. The Armenian Air Defense Force operates a number of S-125 systems, some of which were upgraded to Pechora-M and 2M standards. The one attacked by the Azerbaijani military appeared to be a basic Soviet version. The S-125 radar was likely struck with an Israeli-made IAI Harop loitering munition, which was equipped with an anti-radar homing system and an optical sensor. Its munition range is up to 1,000 km. The Azerbaijani military has so far destroyed dozens of Armenian air-defense systems, including radars and launchers of a S-300 system.

Azerbaijan Captures More Positions And Equipment, Armenia Hopes For A Russian Miracle
South Front, Oct 22 2020

On Oct 21, Azerbaijan reported that it downed 3 Armenian UAVs. The two UAVs were destroyed in the Fizuli direction, and one in the Terter direction of the front.

It also said that more equipment was either destroyed or simply abandoned by the Armenian side on the battlefield, releasing the video above to prove the claims. According to Azerbaijan’s MoD, fighting continues along the entire front, and their forces have the upper hand, controlling the operation. During the day on Oct 21 and on the night of Oct 22, the combat operations in the Aghdere-Aghdam, Fizuli-Jabrayil, and Zangilan-Gubadli directions continued with varying intensity. The Armenian armed forces fired at Azerbaijan’s positions using small arms, mortars, and howitzers. Azerbaijan’s MoD claimed:

As a result of the operation carried out by the Azerbaijan Army in the Gubadli direction, the defending units of the Armenian Armed Forces were forced to withdraw from important high grounds and a number of positions, losing personnel and military vehicles. On the morning of Oct 22, the Armenian forces began shelling Azerbaijani positions. No casualties have been reported. Also, on Oct 22 in the morning, the territory of Azerbaijan was exposed to ballistic missiles fired using an operational-tactical missile complex from the territory Armenia. The enemy fired 3 missiles in the direction of the Siyazan region at about 7 am, 2 missiles in the direction of the Gabala region, and 1 missile in the direction of the Kurdamir region at about 9am.

The report was immediately rebuffed by Armenian Ministry of Defense spox Shushan Stepanyan, who said:

The statement of the Azerbaijani side that Armenia launched ballistic missiles in the direction of Gabala and Kurdamir is complete nonsense, a cynical lie. No missiles were fired from the territory of the Republic of Armenia towards Azerbaijan.

Around the same time, according to the Armenian side, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces were firing artillery in the direction of Martuni and surrounding villages. There is no information about injuries or damages. The situation in the Artsakh-Azerbaijani contact line remained relatively stable but tense during the night. Artillery duels continued in some areas. At the moment, localised battles are taking place in all sectors of the front line. In addition to fierce battles, the enemy also carried out subversive incursions in the central direction, which were successfully prevented by the Defence Army. the Armenian MoD reported:

Forces of the Defence Army continue to foil the adversary’s intentions of changing the tactical situation in their favour, and continue to fulfill the combat task set before them.

In addition to the evidence of the Artsakh Ministry of Defense about the use of the Czech artillery installation Dana (152-mm) by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces during the hostilities, there is also video footage of these installations on the front line by Azerbaijani journalists.

Additionally, a new recording was released purportedly proving the presence of Syrian mercenaries in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Turkey expressed its readiness to officially enter the conflict, as per Vice President Fuat Oktay:

If Baku turns to us, we are ready to send troops to Azerbaijan. Russia failed to resolve the crisis in Artsakh, and the problem cannot be solved without Turkey.

Separately, Armenian President Armen Sarkissian told NATO Sec-Gen Stoltenberg that a peaceful settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh is possible if Turkey stops interfering in the conflict. In Moscow, Armenian Foreign Minister Mnatsakanyan met with Lavrov. The key discussed points included: As a continuation of the telephone conversations of Pres Putin with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan and the proceedings on the cessation of hostilities in the zone of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with the mediation of Russia, Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan met with Lavrov on Oct 21 in Moscow. The agenda of the meeting included issues related to the operational situation in the zone of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the implementation of the ceasefire agreements. Having highly appreciated the efforts of Russia and specifically of President Putin in obtaining agreements on a ceasefire, Mnatsakanyan stated that the agreements reached remain on paper due to the treacherous manner of Azerbaijan and its steps aimed at destabilizing the situation. He reaffirmed Armenia’s commitment to the obligations taken by Armenia in the joint Moscow ceasefire statements of Oct 10 and Oct 17. He highlighted as a top priority the establishment of a stable truce backed by verification mechanisms. Essentially, Armenia appears to be hoping for Russia to step in more assertively, even though in recent years its policy has been almost exclusively anti-Russian.

Azerbaijani-Armenian War: Counter-Offensive In The South And Iranian Factor
South Front, Oct 22 2020

On the evening of Oct 20, the Armenian Defense Ministry declared that they had launched a large-scale counter-offensive against the advancing Azerbaijani forces in the Khudaferin Reservoir area, in the southern part of the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Armenian sources claimed that the attack had caused heavy losses for the ‘enemy’ and had pushed Azerbaijani troops into retreat. Pro-Armenian sources also said that the town of Zangilan had become a ‘trap’ for Azerbaijani troops and that a large group of the ‘enemy forces’ was now being eliminated there. On Oct 20, the Armenian Defense Ministry also released photos of a Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 combat drone downed in the Nagorno-Karabakh combat zone. This is the second time, that the Armenian side appeared to be able to confirm that the Azerbaijani-Turkish bloc had lost a Bayraktar TB2. On October 19, Armenian sources showed a part of a Bayraktar TB2 optic system claiming that a drone had been downed. These drones are allegedly operated by the Azerbaijani military, but military sources say that drone operations are run with direct help from Turkish specialists.

The claims of Armenian successes in the south were immediately denied by the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry. As of Oct 21, the situation on the ground demonstrates that the Armenian side has not yet been able to really retake the initiative in the area. Just before the Armenian counter-attack, Azerbaijani forces captured the town of Zangilan, and 25 villages in the districts of Zangilan, Jabrayil, and Fuzuli. The total number of various settlements captured by Azerbaijan since the start of the war on Sep 27 has reached 75. Aliyev also made an address to the nation, claiming that the Armenian military had been devastated and that his country was on the brink of a military victory in Karabakh. According to him, Azerbaijani forces destroyed 241 battle tanks, 50 armoured vehicles, 215 pieces of artillery, 74 multiple launch rocket systems, 58 mortars, 53 anti-tank weapons, 12 air defense systems, including 4 S-300s and 3 TORs, 8 electronic warfare systems, 3 tactical ballistic missiles and 198 trucks, as well as capturing numerous weapons and equipment from the Armenian side. Indeed, if Armenian forces prove to be unable to organize an active defense, Azerbaijan has every chance of retaking the entire southern part of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and even reaching the Armenian border there in the nearest future.

An Israeli-made IAI Harop combat drone belonging to the Azerbaijani Armed Forces was shot down near the city of Parsabad in northern Iran on Oct 20. The Azerbaijani military uses IAI Harops to target the positions and the equipment of Armenian forces. This is not the first cross-border incident with Iran caused by the ongoing military hostilities in Karabakh. Earlier, Iranian forces already shot down several Azerbaijani drones and reported shells falling inside Iranian territory. On Oct 21, the Iranian Army and the IRGC launched large-scale air defense drills, codenamed Modafe’an-e Aseman-e Velayat 99 (Guardians of Velayat Sky 99). The drills involve the Iranian Army’s air defense units and the Air Force along with the IRGC’s Aerospace Force. Just a few days earlier, the Iranian military deployed additional artillery pieces near to the border with Azerbaijan. Taking into account that the main direction of the current Azerbaijani advance in Karabakh is along the border with Iran, even a limited Iranian military response to regular ‘accidental’ attacks on its territory and violations of its airspace could create difficulties for Azerbaijani forces. For example, the Iranian decision to shoot down combat drones operating too close to the border could undermine Azerbaijani air dominance in this particular chunk of the front-line.

Azerbaijani Forces Captured 22 More Settlements In Nagorno-Karabakh
South Front, Oct 21 2020

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev announced on Oct 21 that his troops had captured 22 new settlements in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The newly-captured settlements are the villages of Gejagozlu, Ashaghi Seyidahmadli and Zargar of Fuzuli district; the villages of Balyand, Papi, Tulus, Hajili, Tinli villages of Jabrayil district; the town of Minjivan and the villages of Khurama, Khumarli, Sari Babayli, Ucunju Aghali, Hajalli, Girakh Mushlan, Udgun, Turabad, Ichari Mushlan, Malikli, Jahangirbayli, Baharli in Zangilan district. President Aliyev said on Twitter:

Long live Azerbaijani Army! Karabakh is Azerbaijan!

Earlier today, the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan announced that load of weapons and equipment had been seized from Armenian forces. The Azerbaijani MoD released footage showing several T-72 battle tanks, BMP-1 and BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles that were recently captured in Nagorno-Karabakh. Most of the vehicles appeared to be heavily damaged.

The battle in Nagorno-Karabakh appears to be heating up. Meanwhile, the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani talks in Moscow are yet to bear any results.

No Diplomatic Solution To Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict At This Stage: Armenian PM
South Front, Oct 21 2020

Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Oct 21 there was no diplomatic solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict at this stage. In a live speech on Facebook, Pashinyan revealed that everything that was acceptable to Armenia now, is not acceptable to Azerbaijan anymore. The Armenian Prime Minister said:

Azerbaijan no longer agrees with what we agree or will agree, which means that at this stage it is at least pointless to talk about any diplomatic solution.

Pashinyan also touched on the ongoing battles in Nagorno-Karabakh, saying that Armenian forces are inflicting heavy losses on the Azerbaijani troops. The PM claimed that more than 10k Azerbaijani soldiers have been killed, so far. The Armenian PM concluded his speech by calling on everyone cable of carrying weapons to go and fight for Nagorno-Karabakh. Despite Pashinyan’s claims, Lavrov held separate meetings with the foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Moscow, the press service of the Ministry of foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation reported on Oct 21. Foreign Ministers will also meet Pompeo on Oct 23 in Washington. Meanwhile, clashes continue in the disputed region. Azerbaijani forces are making new gains on a daily basis, despite receiving some losses.

Pashinyan’s speech will not likely improve the chances of a political solution for the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. The battle there may continue for weeks, if not months.

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