south front for monday

Armenia And Azerbaijan Boast Their Military Successes Amid Another Failed Ceasefire As Turkish Proxies Suffer From Russian Strikes In Syria
South Front, Apr 26 2020

As it was expected, the new (third) humanitarian ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan negotiated in Washington in fact does not work. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan insist that they comply with the ceasefire, but the ‘enemy’ violates it. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev even finds time to announce new victories of the Azerbaijani military that somehow happened amid the ceasefire. Apparently, coward Armenian forces violate the ceasefire regime by attacking the peacefully advancing Azerbaijani troops.

The Azerbaijani President also said that Turkish F-16 jets, which are deployed in Azerbaijan (just a few days ago the top leadership of Turkey and Azerbaijan was denying this) will be employed to protect his country in response to any act of the ‘foreign aggression.’ It’s is interesting to look how the official narrative of Azerbaijan and Turkey has been shifting from claims about the Turkish non-involvement in the war to admitting the direct military participation of Ankara in the military escalation. During the past 2 days, the Azerbaijani-Turkish bloc continued its advance towards the Lachin corridor, a strategic area where the shortest route between Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is located. According to reports, after the recent gains Azerbaijani troops are now in about 10-12km from the area. Azerbaijani forces are now working to secure their recent gains and establish strong points there. After this, they will likely establish a fire control over the strategic route thus undermining the Armenian ability to send supplies to Karabakh.

For example, according to the Armenian Armed Forces, Azerbaijan has been conducting active offensive actions in the south of Karabakh despite the ceasefire. Armenian sources are also not shy to release new claims about their supposed victories in the war with Azerbaijan. For example, on Oct 26, the Armenian Defense Ministry released a new report claiming that Azerbaijan lost 6,674 troops, 600 armoured vehicles, 6 rocket launchers, 24 planes, 16 helicopters and 220 UAVs since the start of the conflict.

The mighty Armenian military industry is also allegedly developing its own loitering munitions (suicide drones) now:

Members of Turkish-backed militant groups that remain in Syria and are yet to move to some conflict zone to die for Erdogan’s Neo-Ottoman dream also suffer hard times.

At least 78 Turkish-backed militants were killed and over 100 others were injured in a recent series of Russian airstrikes on their training camps and HQs in the Syrian region of Idlib. The main strikes targeted a former air defense base of the Syrian Army near Al-Duvayla. This area is by Turkish-backed militants and the former military base itself is currently a training camp for members of Faylaq ash-Sham. Syrian sources link the increased number of Russian strikes on Turkish proxies in Syria with their deployment to the Nagorno-Karabakh combat zone to support Azerbaijan. Russia sees the increase of the presence of radical militant groups there as an unacceptable scenario.

Accusations Of Ceasefire Violations Literally Less Than A Minute After Its Imposed In Nagorno-Karabakh
South Front, Oct 26 2020

On Oct 26, immediately after the humanitarian ceasefire was established in Nagorno-Karabakh, accusations of violations began. Just minutes after the ceasefire went into effect at 8 am local time, the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan accused the Armenian side of gross violation of the ceasefire, but after a while deleted this information. Since then, between 8:00 and 10:10 local time, Azerbaijan has accused Armenia of shelling various units, positions and regions 5 times. And claimed that it fully implemented the ceasefire.

The Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Artsakh states that the units of the Defense Army strictly monitor the agreements reached, and the accusations of the hostile side not only have no relation to reality, but were made in the context of preparing the information ground for further provocations. Armenia also accused Azerbaijan of violating the ceasefire. Armenian Ministry of Defense spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan said:

In gross violation of the humanitarian cease-fire agreement reached in the US, the Azerbaijani side fired artillery at the North—Eastern battle positions of the Artsakh Defense Army at about 8:45 am.

Another violation was recorded at about 9:10. The Azerbaijan armed forces took aim at positions in the South-Eastern direction, firing 5 artillery shells at them. press Secretary of the President of Artsakh Vahram Poghosyan said:

The Azerbaijani side has grossly violated the ceasefire agreement, made for the third time on humanitarian grounds. Appropriate investigations will be carried out on this blatant audacious behavior of the Aliyev regime towards the entire civilized society, but today the task of all of us is to protect our Homeland from the enemy, the Turks (sic – RB). There is no alternative for us, and this is the only way that should lead us only to victory.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan claimed that Armenia continued strictly observing the ceasefire. It appears that, once again, for the third time, the situation isn’t going to be resolved via a humanitarian ceasefire, and it is moving towards falling apart, at a rapid pace. A photograph was published, showing Turkish F-16 fighter jets at Azerbaijan’s Gabala Airbase.

Earlier, the Armenians stated that after the publication of satellite images of the airbase in Ganja, the Turks drove their cars to the Gabala airbase. Then they did not provide any data and they were accused of lying. Nevertheless, after about 2 weeks, Turkish cars did show up in Gabala. The author of the picture claimed the following:

6 presumably Turkish F-16s at the Gabala airbase.

However, only 4 fighter jets are visible in the picture. It is not clear where this discrepancy comes from. Perhaps there are other pictures that were not posted. Until mid-October, Azerbaijan officially denied the presence of Turkish F-16s on its territory, but after the publication in Western media of satellite images of Oct 3 from the airbase in Ganja, where the F-16s were recorded, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev after a while was forced to admit their presence, giving a new version that they were just standing there, but not in combat participate. There is, however, still no conclusive evidence that they’ve taken part in any actions against Armenia, despite accusations. On the day before the ceasefire, on Oct 25, Aliyev said that Azerbaijan had captured several new villages. Aliyev made a post on his official Twitter account saying:

The Azerbaijani Army has today liberated several villages of Zangilan, Jabrayil and Gubadli districts and the city of Gubadli from occupiers. Long live Azerbaijani Army! Karabakh is Azerbaijan!

Azerbaijan And Armenia Agree To Another Humanitarian Ceasefire, To Take Effect Monday
South Front, Oct 26 2020

Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to another humanitarian ceasefire in their almost month-long conflict over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The decision was announced in a joint statement by the two parties to the conflict as well as the US State Dept following negotiations in Washington DC. The ceasefire is the third to be agreed between the warring sides, and will take effect at 8am local time on Monday, according to Sunday’s official statement. The agreement was reached after meetings were held between US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun and the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia on Saturday. Following the announcement on Sunday, the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk group, consisting of representatives from RUFUS, again called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to take immediate steps to implement the agreement signed in Moscow on 10 October regarding steps to end the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Representatives of the group also met with Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, along with US Deputy Foreign Minister Stephen Biegun on Saturday during the negotiations. Another meeting between the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group and the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia is scheduled to be held in Geneva on Oct 29 with this brief:

discuss, reach agreement on, and begin implementation, in accordance with a timeline to be agreed upon, of all steps necessary to achieve a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Meanwhile, fierce fighting continued over the weekend. On Sunday Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, claimed that the Azerbaijani Armed Forces have captured the city of Qubadlı in the Kashatagh province of the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh. The Artsakh Ministry of Defence announced that their forces lost 11 servicemen over the past day, taking their total soldiers killed since fighting broke out to 974. Both sides accused the other of attacks against civilian areas over the weekend. Nagorno-Karabakh’s armed forces accused Azerbaijan of firing upon civilian settlements with artillery in the areas of Martuni and Askeran on Saturday evening, and reported that battles were continuing “on all directions of the front-line” on Sunday morning. At the same time, Azerbaijan’s Defence Ministry claimed that Armenian forces shelled the Terter, Agdam and Aghjabedi regions of Azerbaijan. As the fighting continued between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the Iranian Armed Forces announced on Sunday that they were conducting military drills in regions bordering Armenia and Azerbaijan. The army said:

Ground forces drills were held in the country’s north-western border regions. The goal of the exercise was to demonstrate strength and increase combat readiness.

The drills involved infantry and artillery units, as well as drones. Iran has been monitoring the fighting closely, and claims that at least three drones operated by Azerbaijan have either crashed or been shot down after they crossed into Iran’s airspace.

Azerbaijan, Armenia Reach Another ‘Humanitarian Ceasefire,’ This Time In Washington
South Front, Oct 25 2020

On Oct 25, Armenia and Azerbaijan reached another humanitarian ceasefire deal, this time in Washington. The ceasefire will take effect at 8 am local time on Oct 26. The US State Dept statement reads:

Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov met with Deputy Secretary of State Stephen E Biegun on Oct 24 2020 and reaffirmed their countries’ commitment to implement and abide by the humanitarian ceasefire agreed in Moscow on Oct 10, which were reaffirmed in the statement issued from Paris on Oct 17, in accordance with the Oct 1 2020 joint statement of RUFUS. The humanitarian ceasefire will take effect at 8 am local time on Oct 26 2020. The US facilitated intensive negotiations among the Foreign Ministers and the Minsk Group Co-Chairs to move Armenia and Azerbaijan closer to a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The deal was reached amid intense clashes in the Nagorno-Karabakh region between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces and it does not seem that the Turkish-Azerbaijani bloc is really interested in the de-escalation of the situation as Ankara and Baku believe that they are on the brink of victory. The Iranian leadership is also skeptical regarding the diplomatic settlement of the conflict. Iran deployed large forces to the border with Karabakh and launched large-scale military drills in the area.

Azerbaijani Military Used Israeli ‘Non-Line-Of-Sight’ Missiles Against Armenian Forces
South Front, Oct 25 2020

On Oct 25, the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan shared, for the first time, a video of recent strikes with Israeli-made Spike NLOS missiles on Armenian troops in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The video shows strikes on 2 T-72 main battle tanks, 2 BM-21 multiple rocket launchers, 2 BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles, 2 D-30 howitzers, 2 trucks, 2 posts and 2 depots.

The Spike NLOS [Non-Line-Of-Sight] is an anti-armor missile with a range of up to 25 km. The missile is equipped an EO-IR/CCD seeker and a secure data-line which enable “man-in-the-loop” guidance.

Azerbaijan purchased at least 250 missiles of this type from Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems a few years ago. A number of Azerbaijani Mi-17 helicopters were modified to launch the missile.

The Azerbaijani MoD also released videos showing recent drone and missile strikes on Armenian military equipment. The strikes destroyed 7 D-30 howitzers, 2 D-20 howitzers, 2 2S1 Gvozdika self-propelled howitzers, 2 BM-21 multiple rocket launchers, 1 T-72 battle tank, 4 trucks, 3 ammunition nests and 1 post.

Despite their heavy losses, Armenian forces defending Nagorno-Karabakh have not collapsed yet. Azerbaijani forces maintain a steady but slow advance in the region.

New Report Shed Light On Armenian, Azerbaijani Losses In Nagorno-Karabakh
South Front, Oct 25 2020

A new report has shed light on the losses of Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in the ongoing battle in the dispute region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The report, which was released by the Oryx Blog on Oct 25, provides a detailed summary of the material losses both sides sustained since the outbreak of the battle on Sep 27. According to the report, Armenian forces sustained the following losses:

  • 160 Battle tanks, of which destroyed: 102, damaged: 4, captured: 54;
  • 27 Armoured fighting vehicles, of which destroyed: 16, captured: 11;
  • 37 Infantry fighting vehicles, of which destroyed: 19, captured: 18;
  • 2 Armoured recovery vehicles, of which captured: 2;
  • 2 Self-propelled anti-tank missile system, of which captured: 2;
  • 72 Towed artillery pieces, of which destroyed: 47, damaged: 6, captured: 19;
  • 12 Self-propelled artillery pieces, of which destroyed: 11, damaged: 1;
  • 62 Multiple rocket launchers, of which destroyed: 62;
  • 1 Ballistic Missile destroyed;
  • 9 Mortars, of which destroyed: 1, captured: 8;
  • 1 Self-propelled anti-aircraft gun destroyed;
  • 20 Surface-to-air missile systems, of which destroyed: 20;
  • 10 Radars, of which destroyed: 10;
  • 1 Jammer and Deception system destroyed;
  • 1 Aircraft destroyed;
  • 3 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, of which destroyed: 3;
  • 337 Trucks, Vehicles and Jeeps, of which destroyed: 162, damaged: 5 captured: 170;
  • 2 Decoys, of which destroyed: 2;
  • 16 Strategic locations hit;
  • 42 Anti-tank guided missiles, of which captured: 7 launchers or optics.

The losses of Azerbaijani forces:

  • 24 battle Tanks, of which destroyed: 15, damaged: 6, captured: 2, captured but later lost: 1;
  • 29 Infantry fighting vehicles, of which damaged: 2, captured: 17;
  • 1 Engineering equipment damaged;
  • 8 Aircraft and Helicopters, of which destroyed: 8;
  • 18 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, of which destroyed: 17, captured: 1;
  • 18 Trucks, Vehicles and Jeeps, of which destroyed: 12, damaged: 5, captured: 1.

It is important to note that the Oryx blog is known for supporting Turkish-backed Syrian rebels as well as for being aligned with the Azerbaijani-Turkish media campaign in its efforts to cover the war in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The blog also has links to Bellingcat, which reflects its political orientation. The numbers provided by the blog were likely collected from videos and photos coming from the conflict zone. While this provides an insight on the situation, it is nearly impossible to verify these numbers or the media material which were collected from. Lost Armour, a credible military statistics site which is monitoring the ongoing conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, provided different date from that given by Oryx. The website lists verified losses only. It does not relay on repeated footage or any evidence that has not been checked in details yet. According to that website, Armenian forces losses were:

  • 13 Battle tanks;
  • 10 Armoured fighting vehicles;
  • 8 Infantry fighting vehicles;
  • 26 Multiple rocket launchers;
  • 17 Towed and self-propelled howitzers;
  • 16 Air-Defense and Radar systems;
  • 2 Jammer and Deception system;
  • 1 Warplane;
  • 2 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

Azerbaijani forces losses were:

  • 8 Battle tanks;
  • 4 Armoured fighting vehicles;
  • 3 Infantry fighting vehicles;
  • 4 Armoured recovery vehicles;
  • 7 warplanes;
  • 18 Unmanned Aerial vehicles.

Regardless of the data provided by Oryx and Lost Armour, there is no doubt that Armenian forces sustained more than double the Azerbaijani losses in the ongoing battle. The superior fire power and more advanced weapons of Azerbaijani forces have inflicted serious losses on Armenian troops. As a result, Azerbaijani forces were able to make significant advance in Nagorno-Karabakh, mainly in the region’s south-eastern part.

Armenian Forces Shot Down Azerbaijani Loitering Munition
South Front, Oct 25 2020

On Oct 25, Armenian air defense units shot down an Azerbaijani loitering munition over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Armenian Unified Infocenter shared photos of the munition, which was identified as an advanced version of the Israeli-made SkyStriker. According to the manufacturer, Elbit Systems, website, SkyStriker is a fully autonomous loitering munitions that can locate, acquire and strike operator-designated targets with a 5 kg or 10 Kg warhead. The munition, which is propelled by an electric engine, can stay in the air for 1 hour with a 5 kg warhead and 2 hours with a 10 kg warhead. Detection and target acquisition is done through a gambled (sic – RB) CCD-IR seeker. Azerbaijani forces have been using Israeli-made loitering munitions like SkyStriker and IAI Harop to strike high-value Armenian military equipment, such as air-defense systems, since the outbreak of the battle in Nagorno-Karabakh on Sep 27. Armenian air defense forces are finally adopting to the threat posed by Azerbaijan’s loitering munitions and combat drones. An Azerbaijani Aerostar tactical drone and three Bayraktar TB2 combat drones were reportedly shot down in the last few days.

Iran Sends Numerous Military Equipment To The Border With Nagorno-Karabakh
South Front, Oct 25 2020

The IRGC has deployed reinforcements on the border with the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, where a heated battle between Armenian and Azerbaijan forces has been ongoing for nearly a month now. Commander of IRGC Ground Force Brig-Gen Mohammad Pakpoor visited on Oct 23 the border area near Khoda-Afarin County in the Province of East Azerbaijan. Several shells fired by the Azerbaijani and Armenian forces fell there in the last few weeks. The commander said:

Although a number of shells fired in the Karabakh dispute have landed on Iranian soil, security prevails along the borders and there is no threat to the country.

Brig-Gen Pakpoor said reinforcements were deployed to protect Iran’s national interests as well as to provide security and safety for civilians in the border area. Azerbaijani forces imposed full control of Nagorno-Karabakh’s border with Iran earlier this week. However, stray fire from the fighting in the region continue to reach nearby Iranian land. Last week, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Mohammad Javad Zarif warned both Armenia and Azerbaijan that Tehran will not remain indifferent if their fire continues to hit Iranian territories. Despite taking defensive measures and releasing a number of warnings, Iran will not likely act against Azerbaijan or Armenia. Tehran has a large Azeri population and enjoys close relations with Yerevan.

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