By | Rachel Brooks
October 28, 2020
Above, victims of the Barda shelling incident of October 28.
Update. Hurriyet News states death toll has risen to 21, and wounded to 70 at the time of this report. This is a developing story.
News reports state that greater Barda, Azerbaijan has again been shelled. The Jerusalem Post shared via the Reuters wire that 14 civilians were killed on Wednesday, October 28. An additional 40 people were wounded in the most recent shelling. This follows the shelling events of October 27, which also resulted in civilian casualties, including a little girl and a toddler.
AzerNews reported on October 28 at 14:46 local time that the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry had confirmed the use of Smerch missile fire via multiple rocket launchers in Barda City on October 28. The news outlet cited Assistant to the President Hikmat Hajiyev via his Twitter. Hajiyev also stated further shelling against civilian Tartar occurred.
Likewise, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan shared photographic evidence of the shelling event in Barda.
“URGENT! Armenian armed forces, grossly violating the humanitarian ceasefire regime, again have fired at the #Barda city from the “Smerch” MLRS.
As of now at least 13 civilians killed and many injured! This is crime against humanity!” tweeted the MFA of Azerbaijan. The death toll had risen to 14 as of Jerusalem Post and Reuters’ reporting.
Despite the fact that the Armenian armed forces have continued to shell Barda over the weeks of the most recent conflict, the Armenian government denies all allegations.
“The statement of the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan that the Armed Forces of Armenia allegedly hit the town of Barda with Smerch is groundless and false,” tweeted the Armenian MOD press secretariat.
Instead, the Armenian Ministry of Defense has released a series of statements alleging the Turkish and Azerbaijani militaries are establishing terrorist cells in the region. There has been no confirmed cooperation between the Turkish and Azerbaijani ministry of defense.
“The analysis of the tactics & intercepted telephone conversations of Turk-Azerbaijani mercenaries & terrorists, collated with intelligence data shows that in the result of the tactical retreat of the Armenian units in some directions, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces are diligently establishing bases for terrorist groups in these respective areas, whose actions can destabilize the situation not only on the borders of Armenia & Artsakh, but also pose a serious threat to the entire region. Press service, MoD,” tweeted the press secretary of the Armenian MOD, Shushan Stepanyan.
Armenia likewise published tactical reports and alleged that Azerbaijan deliberately attacked the maternity ward of a hospital in Stepanakert. Stepanakert has a total of 10 publicly listed medical complexes. It was not specified in the MOD’s statement which of these hospitals was damaged.
Following this statement, foreign journalists obtained images of the site, and it is believed to have been the area of construction for a new medical complex. The medical complex was reported on by the Artsakh Press, under recent construction, and would not have had admitted patients or medical staff on site at the time of the incident. An article regarding the progress of the complex appears on September 8 at 16:34 local time in the Artsakh Press.
The article states that the hospital construction would commence through the end of October, and that the complex construction began 2.5 months prior. There were no follow up reports from the Artsakh Press signifying completed construction before or on October 28.
The team of Republic Underground news is working to confirm the specific circumstances of the shelling incident.
The belief is that Azerbaijan initially targeted a military monument in the general vicinity. Photos show a vacant construction site. No civilians are believed to have been harmed in the damages to this site.
In addition to allegations of a maternity ward’s damages, Stepanyan also tweeted that Shushi was being shelled by Smerch MLRS. There has, however, been no ballistic satellite imagery or access for foreign groups, such as Amnesty International, to visit the ground scene and determine the legitimacy of this statement. Mrs. Stepanyan did not provide photographic evidence of the ordinance.
Photographic evidence of the ordinance used in Barda on October 27 suggests that Armenia does have access to Soviet-styled cluster munitions. Photographic evidence had not, at the time of this reporting, emerged to confirm the use of cluster munitions in the event of October 28. Based on photographic evidence of the exacted damage, the status trends to a high degree of probability that Smerch were used again in today’s events.