By | Rachel Brooks
October 30, 2020
Above image shared from the account of Hikmet Hajiyev. Fair use.
Today, Smerch missiles were reported to have fired upon the Alasgarli village of the Tartar region, Azerbaijan. This was announced by the Assistant to the President Hikmet Hajiyev. ANAMA was scheduled to decommission the weapon directly after its discovery. The missile is not believed to have detonated and was found in pieces. As Smerch missile attacks continued, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense reported their subsequent destruction.
This is a fortunate turn of events for a nation shaken by the ravages of banned munitions for a single week. This week, Smerch missiles were fired upon the civilians of Barda, killing 21 and wounding at least 70. Today, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense declares that it has neutralized the launch pad of the Smerch missile.
The firing position of the "Smerch" MLRS belonging to the Armenian Armed Forces, which fired at the civilians and civilian infrastructure in Barda, was located.
On October 29, at about 15.18, the "Smerch" MLRS was destroyed by the accurate fire of our units. pic.twitter.com/LceYZCjQMc
— Azerbaijan MOD (@wwwmodgovaz) October 30, 2020
These attacks have, despite western media biases in the recent past, have received recognition from humanitarian organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, as well as reportage from outlets such as The New York Times and The Washington Post. The coverage of events from the Azerbaijan side of the firing line marks a milestone in press balance, as in recent previous eras of the conflict western outlets have focused primarily on shelling in the Nagorno-Karabakh region itself.
These outlets have also reflected some preferential interests in the self-declared Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, known as Artsakh, even though Artsakh is not a legally recognized republic under international law. It is likewise not recognized as independent of Armenia by Armenia, despite the argument in western media that the subordinate settlement requires the right to self-determination.
As these outlets recognized the shelling events, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan appealed to the international community to condemn the use of banned munitions against the nation’s civilian population.
“Both @Amnesty International & @HRW have verified the use of banned weapons by #Armenia in an attack on the city center of #Barda on 28 Oct. It’s a flagrant disregard for civilian life & international law! We call on the intl community to condemn this atrocity & act of vandalism,” tweeted the MFA of Azerbaijan on October 30.
In recent developments, some other foreign nations have condemned the use of cluster munitions against civilians. AzerNews reported that the nation of Guam has condemned the notable Barda attack.
As foreign entities condemn the use of cluster munitions against the Azerbaijani civilian population, the United States appears to remain silent. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo does not appear to have made a public acknowledgment of the use of the Smerch missiles in Barda, or those that were used today, despite being the official to oversee ceasefire negotiations. Likewise, via the official government website, the U.S. State Department does not appear to have commented on the use of Smerch missiles against Azerbaijani civilians.
As Smerch missile launch pads were destroyed, Armenia continued to shell civilian settlements. AzerNews reported shots fired into Gubadli. Shots into Gubadli were determined to have launched from the Goris region, Armenia. Shelling affected the general vicinity of “Goranboy, Tartar, Aghdam, and Aghjabedi regions since 07:35 local time” citing AzerNews.
AzerNews chalked the tally of civilian deaths up to 91 as of this report.