south front for saturday

Armenian-Azerbaijani War: Military Situation In Nagorno-Karabakh
South Front, Oct 24 2020

The Armenian-Azerbaijani war has been ongoing in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region since Sep 27. This is a brief overview of the developments for the past 24 hours:

  • Azerbaijan Army reportedly captured Dolanar, Bunyadli, Dag Tumas, Nusus, Xelefli, Minbashili, Veyselli, Venedli, Mirzehasanli, Zilanli, Kurd Mahrizli, Muganli, Alagurshag;
  • Clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces were reported near Qubadli;
  • Azerbaijan artillery reportedly shelled Martuni and Stepanakert;
  • Armenian artillery reportedly shelled the Tartar area;
  • The Armnian military claims 40 civilians were killed, 120 others wounded and 13,100 civilian and infrastructure objects were wounded as a result of the Azerbaijani aggression;
  • Armenia claimed its forces shot down an Azerbaijani UAV in the northeast of the country;
  • Azerbaijani forces reportedly shelled the Lachin corridor area.

Map Comparison: Azerbaijani Gains In War With Armenia In Nagorno-Karabakh Region
South Front, Oct 24 2020

These maps provides a general look at the progress of the Azerbaijani advance in the Nagorno-Karabakh region since the start of the war with Armenia on Sep 27, through two ‘humanitarian ceasefires’ (the first one on Oct 10 and the second one on Oct 18) and the situation as of Oct 24.

Azerbaijani Forces Rush To Capture Lachin Corridor From Retreating Armenians
South Front, Oct 23 2020

The Armenian defense in the southern part of the Nagorno-Karabakh region seems to be collapsing as the advancing Azerbaijani forces are about to reach the strategic Lachin corridor. On Oct 23, Azerbaijani troops were filmed near the village of Muradxanlı, which is located in about 15 km from this strategic area. Even if this Azerbaijani unit was just a field recognizance patrol and the main forces of the Turkish-Azerbaijani bloc still have to overcome Armenian resistance to reach the area, the fact of the Azerbaijani presence there marks the hard situation on the frontline for the Armenians. The Lachin corridor is a mountain pass within the de jure borders of Azerbaijan, forming the shortest route between Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (Republic of Artsakh). The cutting off of Lachin will destroy the remaining hopes of the Armenian side to achieve a military victory in the ongoing war.

Meanwhile, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev announced that his forces took full control of the Azerbaijani-Iranian border after capturing the village of Aghband. The Azerbaijani leader also declared that the Armenians lost 21 more settlements in the districts of Zangilan, Fuzuli and Jabrayil. The Armenian military denies the collapse of its defense lines in the south and claims that Azerbaijani units appearing on video are just sabotage parties. According to the Armenian side, various Azerbaijan troops tried to advance in the western, northern and northwestern directions, but all of these offensive attempts were repelled. The Azerbaijani military allegedly suffered heavy losses. The Armenian side insists that the towns of Hadrut and Fuzuli are in fact not in the hands of Azerbaijan. It insists that various units of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan penetrate into different settlements in the front-line zone trying to create panic and make selfies there. These groups, according to Armenian media, are very small and often run away from Armenian troops.

The optimism of Armenian officials is at least surprising. According to reports, Armenian troops left the town of Aghband with almost no resistance to the Azerbaijani Armed Forces supported by Turkish specialists and Syrian militants. This move was likely a result of the need to save personnel and keep at least some reserves needed on other parts of the frontline. The defending of the almost surrounded town makes no sense. Nonetheless, videos and photos appearing online indicate that Armenian sabotage groups are also active in the rear of the advancing Azerbaijani forces. In that area, if they have enough supplies and weapons, they would be able to deliver painful blows to the logistical convoys of the Turkish-Azerbaijani bloc. It is likely that his activity is a formal pretext behind the statements of the Armenian Ministry of Defense that Azerbaijan has not gained full control of the border with Iran. Forces of Azerbaijan continue to take control of settlements and villages in the south of Karabakh. Most of them are empty as the locals (ethnic Armenians) know well what fate they could face. It seems that the south of Karabakh is already lost for Armenia.

The Azerbaijani advance along the border with Iran through the relatively flat ground (if one compares it with the rest of Karabakh) appears to be a success. Now the Azerbaijani military and its allies are working to fully secure the border with Iran and set conditions for an operation to capture the Lachin corridor. The ability or inability of Azerbaijan to capture Lachin could become another turning point in the war. Under the current conditions, it seems that a relatively positive outcome of the conflict for Karabakh forces would be possible in the event of the involvement some third power that would provide them with direct military assistance. Nonetheless, this scenario remains unlikely as long as even Armenia, which for years has been using Karabakh as its own protectorate, is not hurrying up to do so. Some Armenian sources even claim that the Pashinyan government oriented towards the West and NATO has just opted to sell the contested region to Azerbaijan under some formal pretext to remove the unresolved territorial disputes factor and open a way towards the further ‘democratic’ transformation of Armenia that it desires so much.

Weapons Of Karabakh War: Israel’s Cardom ‘Hatchet’ 81mm/120mm Self-Propelled Howitzer
South Front, Oct 23 2020

The Cardom “Hatchet” is an Israeli 81mm/120mm Recoil Mortar System (RMS) manufactured by Soltam Systems (Elbit). It is used by the US Army, the IDF, NATO countries, and others, as well as by Azerbaijan. The Cardom is an autonomous, computerized system for mounting on light and medium armored carriers. The system uses a new Computerized Integrated Navigation and Self Positioning and Aiming systems. Its modern Target Acquisition Devices together with a specially designed Recoiling Mortar System, attenuates the firing loads and enables mounting the systems on wheeled and tracked AFVs, or even soft-skinned vehicles such as trucks. The Cardom Aiming mechanisms are linked to state-of-the-art command, control and communication systems to achieve quick response automatic laying mode. The IDF delivered Cardom system takes target acquisition data that provides range, bearing, position and other data from an observation point and transmits it directly to the Cardom system; using electrical servo motors, the mortar barrel is then set at the exact traverse and elevation angles ready for firing. The 120 mm Cardom has a firing rate of 16 rpm, followed by a 4 rpm sustained rate of fire. The Cardom Recoil Mortar System has been qualified for fielding with the 3rd US Army Stryker brigade and will be coupled to the US Army’s M95 Mortar Fire Control System on the M1129 Mortar Carrier. Israel has used Keshet ( “Bow”) M113 tracked APC variants as their Cardom platform, since the system was deployed with the Nahal Infantry Brigade external link in 2007. The 2011 arrival of precision 120mm mortar shells, such as IAI’s Fireball external link, or ATK’s APMI, adds precision to the 120mm mortar’s traditional virtues of simplicity and low cost. That’s especially important for armies who want to use mortar fire in urban combat, but wish to limit civilian casualties. The video above shows firing in Karabakh of the Israeli Soltam (Elbit Systems) CARDOM ‘Hatchet’ self-propelled howitzer of the Azerbaijani army. The installation was carried out on the chassis of a Mercedes (4×4) car.

Armenia Shot Down Drone Suffering Heavy Losses In Azerbijaniani Strikes
South Front, Oct 23 2020

On Oct 23, the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan released videos of recent strikes on Armenian forces in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The videos show strikes on the following targets:

  • 3 M-46 130 mm howitzer;
  • 2 D-30 122 mm howitzer;
  • 12 fortified posts;
  • 2 BM-21 122 mm multiple rocket launcher;
  • 4 military trucks;
  • 2 ammunition depots;
  • 3 gatherings of troops.

Most of the strikes seen in the videos were carried out by Azerbaijani combat drones, while the rest were conducted with rocket launchers and other weapons. Despite sustaining heavy losses in drones strikes in the early days of the battle, Armenian forces are finally adopting new tactics to counter this threat. The Armenian Air Defense Force shot down on October 23 an Israeli-designed Aerostar tactical drone. The downed drone was made locally in Azerbaijan by Azad Systems. Drones of this type can operate at an altitude of 5,4 km and have an endurance of 12 hours.

In the last three days, at least three Turkish-mad Bayraktar TB2 combat drones were allegedly shot down by Armenian forces. These losses may force the Azerbaijani military to restrict the use of its drones.

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