Armenia targets Ganja, Azerbaijan takes back villages

ganja skylineAn older photo of the Ganja City skyline

By | Rachel Brooks

October 5, 2020

Image created by Ilkin m-Zade CC BY SA 4.0

Armenia has targeted its offensive in Azerbaijan against Ganja, the nation’s second largest city, as well as outlying civilian residential areas. The Associated Press reported on October 4 that Armenia pursues cities and territories outside of the immediate conflict zone. Armenia does so in an effort to fortify its settlement interests. Despite this fact, Armenia vehemently denies these claims. The Armenian Ministry of Defense was swift to deny these facts. However, the Armenian commander in Nagorno-Karabakh states that he gave orders authorizing rocket attacks to neutralize the Azerbaijani military objects of Ganja. This reaches outside of the immediate conflict zone in the Nagorno-Karabakh and puts at risk the civilians living in Ganja. The BBC reported that Azerbaijan stated no military posts were hit in the targeted event. 

In the hours to follow the Armenian offensive upon Ganja, civilian injuries and at least one death were confirmed. Azernews reports that, among the Azerbaijani civilians who were wounded in the attack, an Armenian national was also wounded. Thus, the Armenian offensive against Azerbaijan has put its own civilians in the line of fire. The Armenian national was identified as Karina Grigoryan, age 77. She, along with three others, was injured in the offensive against Ganja. Another person was killed in the attack. 

Grigoryan is seen in photographs from Azernews being carried out of the rubble of her home by her neighbors. Her home was destroyed in a missile attack. She was transported to the hospital. As of October 5, the number of casualties on the Azerbaijani side of the conflict totaled 24 dead and 121 injured. The conflict escalations from the Armenian firing line have persisted since September 27. 

The Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan has stated that other civilian areas besides Ganja have been the subject of direct targeting, an observable trend since the outset of renewed escalations. On September 27, missiles were fired all along the borderline in Nagorno-Karabakh. These attacks followed a rash of 48 ceasefire violations on September 26, that were documented at 9:40am local time.  A series of ceasefire violations had been documented since  an offensive against the Tovuz region in July. 

As of October 5, the Ministry of Defense reported from the frontline that Beylagan City had come under fire as well as Ganja. The situation in Beylagan was labeled “urgent.” Armenia was shelling Beylagan as of 16:47 hours, or 4:47pm, local time. Direct footage of the attacks on Ganja has been recorded by AzerNews. Photographic evidence shows apartment complexes with windows and bricks blown out in the wake of the missile peppering. The photos were provided by Trend News Agency Azerbaijan. 

Also on  October 5, the Ministry of Defense reported that civilian settlements continued to be under fire. The situation was marked as “urgent” in Horadiz city of the Fizuli region, and the villages of the Agjabedi region, as well as greater Terter, and the Goranboy and Goygol regions. All listed regions were reported as being shelled as of 11:40 local time.  This trends to the high likelihood that there is no current progress in diplomatic talks and that civilians will be targeted for now. In response to the situation as it impacts civilians, foreign military attaches were briefed. Azerbaijan briefed the International Military Cooperation Department on the status of the conflict situation. Foreign military representatives were in attendance and were made aware that the attacks from Armenia were with deliberation, and that Armenia was the aggressor in the shelling events. The guests of the Ministry of Defense were shown proof that the Armenian offensive targeted peaceful settlements in the onward press. Azerbaijani defense was able to provide proof of deliberate missile targeting, as well as fact-based proof of direct Armenian aggressive engagement of Azerbaijani personnel. Footage from this meeting is available via the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense, via the English language site, as well as the Azerbaijani language YouTube. 

Despite the Armenian offensive’s persistence, Azerbaijan has managed to reclaim civilian settlements in an effort to bring the situation back under control. The Ministry of Defense reported at 20:40 hours or 8:40pm local time, the remarks of President and Commander in Chief Ilham Aliyev regarding the reclamation of civilian settlements. Aliyev states that Azerbaijan reclaimed Shikhali Aghali, Sarijali, and Marza villages of the Jabrayil district as of October 5.  Aliyev states that these regions, among others reclaimed in recent developments, are strategic heights that will give Azerbaijan solid footing in the defense against the Armenian offensive.