Thursday sees violence along Armenia-Azerbaijan border, further fighting reported on Friday morning

Throughout yesterday, Thursday (11 May), there were frequent reported ceasefire violations along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. A further ceasefire violation was also reported on Friday morning (12 May).

In a statement posted at 7am on Thursday morning, the Armenian Ministry of Defence reported a ceasefire violation having taken place at 6am, accusing units of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces of opening "artillery and mortar fire against the Armenian positions located in the direction of Sotk".

However, this was preceded by a statement from the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense posted at 6.15am on Thursday, which accused Armenia of having "deliberately committed a provocation by subjecting to intensive fire the Azerbaijan Army's opposite positions using various types of small arms" in the evening of Wednesday (10 May).

Azerbaijan said that serviceman Mahmudlu Muslum Vidadi had been "seriously wounded in the head", and said they "took necessary retaliatory measures in [the] provocation area".

However, in a statement released at 7.17am, one hour after the initial Azerbaijan announcement, Armenia called it “disinformation”, before adding that the Armenian side had 2 wounded and were “ taking relevant preventive and protective measures”.

Fighting on Thursday morning (11 May)

Throughout Thursday, Armenia and Azerbaijan traded accusations and counter-accusations, with reports of periods of violence followed by reports of relative calm.

Armenia accused Azerbaijan of launching artillery and mortar fire at regular intervals in the Sotk direction between 7.20am and 10am, resulting in 4 Armenian soldiers being wounded. Other areas along the border remained stable, they added.

Armenia also refuted claims made in Azerbaijani media that Armenia was deploying Iranian-made drones, saying that “there are no Iranian UAVs in the inventory of the [Armenian] Armed Forces”.

On Azerbaijan’s part, in a statement released just before 8am, the Ministry of Defense wrote: “Starting from the morning of May 11, the Armenia armed forces [are] making the situation even more tense, from the positions in the direction of Zod [Sotk] settlement of the Basarkechar using mortars subjected to fire the Azerbaijan Army's opposite positions.”

This statement was soon followed by a statement in which Azerbaijan accused Armenia of trying to “expand the scale of provocations” by subjecting Azerbaijani positions to fire from “large-caliber weapons and mortars”, before adding that they were taking “decisive retaliatory measures”.

Azerbaijan also accused Armenia of spreading falsehoods and disinformation over the alleged “shooting of [a] medical vehicle” by Azerbaijani units.

At 10.33am, Azerbaijan accused Armenia of “creating a basis for a next provocation”, before announcing at 11.24am that serviceman Novruzalizade Orkhan Elkhan had been killed in the fighting.

Evening violence follows an afternoon of relative calm

Armenia then accused Azerbaijan of violating the ceasefire in the Sotk direction “at regular intervals” between 11am and 1pm, but described the situation on the frontline as “relatively stable” with “no significant ceasefire violations” reported until 5pm.

The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense did not release any news pertaining to the situation on the ground between midday and 5pm, although violence between Armenia and Azerbaijan reportedly picked up again shortly after.

The Armenian side accused Azerbaijan of opening mortar fire in the Sotk direction at 5.10pm, although the situation had calmed down by 5.40pm, according to Armenia.

Almost simultaneously, Azerbaijan released a statement accusing Armenian forces stationed around Sotk of launching howitzer fire at Azerbaijani units from 5pm, adding that they were taking “ adequate retaliatory measures”.

Armenia accused Azerbaijan of further ceasefire violations in the Norabak and Verin Shorzha directions at 6.25pm and 7.50pm respectively, but did not report any further ceasefire violations overnight.

Friday morning (12 May)

In a statement released just before 10am, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense said that “relative calm prevailed” overnight around Sotk, before outlining precisely where Armenia had allegedly fired on Azerbaijani positions the day before.

As of 12.45pm Yerevan/Baku time on Friday (12 May), the latest update from the countries’ ministries of defence is an Armenian accusation of Azerbaijan violating the ceasefire around 10am in the Sotk direction using UAVs. 

Two servicemen were wounded, and one critically so, according to the statement. From 10.30am, “the situation on the front line is relatively stable”, the statement says.

source: with the Armenian and Azerbaijani ministries of defence.
photo: euractiv