Wednesday, April 6, 2016

April 2016 war in Karabakh: a chronology

Map of northeastern corner of Nagorno Karabakh where much of the intense
fighting occurred between Apr. 2-5. Due to Az. artillery fire, Arm. side
evacuated residents of Talish, Madagis and Mardakert.  Solid white line
running from upper left to bottom right is the Line of Contact.
Prepared by Emil Sanamyan.

All times local for Armenia and Azerbaijan, 1 hour ahead of Moscow and 8 hours ahead of EST.

April 2, Saturday

Past Midnight - 01:15 - According to NKR President Bako Sahakyan shortly after midnight he consulted with his top military and security officials after receiving first reports of Azerbaijani deployments. Initial assessment was that these troop movements did not signify a large-scale attack, but a smaller-scale hit-and-run action typical of the previous two years. The meeting was dismissed, but Defense Army commander Gen. Levon Mnatsakanyan remained at work to watch the situation.

In a later interview, Mnatsakanyan confirmed that initial intelligence did not indicate a large-scale attack, but he nevertheless ordered the army's special forces units to pre-position in Mardakert direction.

Overnight, various Armenian frontline posts come under mortar shelling; such attacks had become routine since mid-2015

03:00-04:00 Sargsyan, then Aliyev fly from Washington after international nuclear security summit. Sargsyan could not be reached from Yerevan until his plane landed in Europe about 7 hours later (~10:00-11:00 Armenia time). 

03:00 After observing Azerbaijani artillery and other deployments, and increased intensity in mortar shelling, Armenian artillery units are ordered to leave their base areas and prepare for combat. According to Defense Army's then operations chief Col. Viktor Arustamyan, these were still precautionary measures, and only by about 05:00 it became clear that Azerbaijan was staging a large-scale attack to capture territory.

03:20 For the first time in 22 years, Azerbaijani forces begin using heavy artillery, including Grad launchers, to shell Armenian populated areas, including Talish, Madagis, the town of Mardakert and nearby village of Nerkin Oratagh in the northeast and Mekhakavan and Araler in the south. Electricity was knocked out in the area as missile fire also hit the Madagis HPP generator. An RT video shows Azerbaijani Grad MLRS firing on April 2 from south of Tartar. By morning, three Armenian military servicemen are killed by shelling targeting regimental headquarters in Madagis, others are wounded.  In his April 4 press conference. Defense Army spokesman estimated some 1,350 Grad-type missiles fired within an hour.

During breaks in shelling, civilians are evacuated from Talish, Madagis and Mardakert, located just 3 to 4 kilometers from the LoC. Several thousand eventually evacuate and no civilian deaths have been reported from Azerbaijani missile and artillery fire in this area. 

04:15 A video shot by an Armenian frontline observation camera subsequently published on youtube shows dozens of Azeri forces concentrating for an attack opposite posts 170-171 in Talish area. In attacks in Tapkarakoyunlu-Talish direction later on April 2, Azerbaijani forces capture some twelve Armenian posts, several of which were returned in Armenian counterattack in the morning of April 3.

05:00 Azerbaijani forces launch ground attacks at frontline Armenian posts in Kazakhlar-Nuzger and Alkhanli-Fizuli areas in the south, as well as Gapanli/Seysulan-Shotlanli, Chailu-Madagis and Gulistan-Tonashen in the north. A post is part of the first line of defense of the Armenian Karabakh Defense Army; each post is typically manned by a 7-member squad with 2 servicemen as lookouts at any given time.

05:30 - At least three members of Azerbaijani special forces team killed during an attack on a military post 140 in Madagis area, in the northeastern corner of Nagorno Karabakh; their bodies remained at the Armenian post. Azerbaijani attack is also beat back in Gulistan direction.

On the south-eastern corner of Armenian-controlled territory fighting focused on Lale Tepe hill (center), just two
kilometers from Iranian border (demarcated by Araxes river).

06:00 Azerbaijani forces capture five posts in Nuzger direction located on Lale Tepe hills; 19 Armenian servicemen are killed at posts #112 and #115 in this area, most of their bodies remained under Azerbaijani control. In Seysulan direction, one post was overrun, with 4 Armenian servicemen killed; that post #116 was recaptured by Armenian forces by 08:00 and at least 20 Azerbaijani servicemen were killed in Seysulan fighting. 

06:45 An Azerbaijani helicopter is reported hit in Gulistan area in the north of Karabakh, Defense Army reports two hours later. Later reports suggested that a helicopter was hit by Igla MANPAD & exploded in the air, but no corroboration of this report ever emerged.

08:00 According to the Defense Army, Azerbaijani forces launch armored attacks in Horadiz-Nuzger in the south and Kaziyan-Shurabad in the northeast.

08:18 In the first public release about the escalation, Karabakh Defense Army reports on its web site about Azerbaijani offensive operations with the use of tanks, artillery and combat helicopters in the southern, southeastern and northeastern directions; Karabakh civilian areas and military units hit by artillery fire; Armenian forces "having accepted the opponent's challenge, are engaged in defensive battles," the statement said.

Web site of the Karabakh Defense Army was first outlet to report about the April war, about five hours after the first artillery attacks were launched overnight. The first Azerbaijani defense ministry report appeared several hours later.
08:30 Karabakh Defense Army reports at 10:25 that a Grad strike at 08:30, likely aiming at a military base near Zoravan / Martuni, killed a 12 year-old schoolboy and wounded two other children; although Saturday, April 2 was a working and a school day in Armenia and NKR with the following Monday a day off.

Early in the morning Azerbaijani Su-25 aircraft are seen flying from Kurdamir air base towards Karabakh, but they did not engage targets on the ground. MiG-29s at Nasosnaya base also scrambled for combat patrol. Later in the day, Armenian aircraft and helicopters reportedly fly out from airbases in Gumri and Erebuni, but also stay out of fighting.

10:00 According to FlightRadar data, Azerbaijani civilian flights resume from Nakhichevan and Baku after 4-hour delay. 

11:00 In its first public statement on the fighting, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense reports Armenian artillery fire in Terter and Agdam districts; 1 civilian dead and 2 others wounded when their car is hit by Grad shrapnel; denies losing a helicopter.

Around 11AM-noon, an Azerbaijani special forces unit from 52nd brigade enters a house on northern outskirts of Talish, killing an elderly civilian couple inside, their bed-ridden 90-years old female relative is also killed. All three bodies were mutilated. (Photo evidence of that war crime was published the following day.) The same unit ambushes an army supply truck on the road just north of Talish, killing its driver and accompanying military officer, decapitating them. One of the fighting's surviving participants subsequently admitted to have committed the decapitation. 

12:50 Karabakh Defense Army reports continued heavy fighting in Horadiz-Hadrut and Terter-Mardakert directions, publishes photos of dead Azerbaijani special forces personnel and of Israeli-made ThunderB UAV that apparently crash-landed nearly intact in northern NK, claims two Azerbaijani tanks hit by Armenian forces in the south and one in the north. Says that around 12:30 a second Azerbaijani helicopter is shot down in southeastern direction. On April 4 Bars Media Films talked to soldiers from the frontline post that shot down that Mi-24G; according to documents recovered from it, a day earlier the Kala-based Mi-24G no. 305 was pre-positioned in the town of Beylagan, 30km from LoC, and was tasked with hitting targets in the southeastern direction, up to 10km inside the LoC. 

12:58 Russian president Vladimir Putin "calls for an immediate cessation of fire to avoid additional human losses," according to a statement circulated by his spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

14:00 Armenian president returns to Yerevan, briefed by defense minister at airport; plans announced for National Security Council session in the evening.

Azerbaijani Defense Ministry press release, issued in late afternoon of April 2 and since rescinded, exaggerated Azerbaijani territorial gains, including villages of Seysulan, Talish and Madagis which its forces had failed to capture. 

17:00 Azerbaijani MoD press release claims control of Talish, Madagis, Seysulan and Lale Tepe hills near Iranian border, says 12 of its soldiers killed, confirms one helicopter shot down. Some time later the Azerbaijani MoD modified its press release to drop references to control of Talish, Madagis and Seysulan and referring instead to "heights around Talish." Subsequent Armenian media coverage from Talish and the heights, such as this PanArmenian photo report, challenged this claim as well, but confirmed that Azerbaijani forces managed to capture Armenian frontline posts northeast of Talish. As far as the ruins of Seysulan in Mardakert district located along the Line of Contact, the attack in this area was reversed by morning of April 2. The Defense Army acknowledged Azerbaijani control of Lale Tepe; a video report made on April 7 showed Armenian and Azerbaijani forces digging new trenches in that area.

Azerbaijani social media groups spread video and photos of severed head of 19-year-old army Pvt. Karam Sloyan , bodies of other dead Armenian soldiers seen in frontline trenches. (According to a later report, Sloyan's decapitated body was recovered when his Seysulan area post was recaptured, but the severed head was only returned by Azerbaijani officials on April 10 as part of the exchange of remains. In all, three of 28 bodies of Armenian servicemen that were recovered were decapitated; bodies of nearly all other soldiers exchanged by Azerbaijan were otherwise mutilated.)

18:00 Azerbaijani forces capture post #170, northwest of Talish, with 4 Armenian servicemen defending it killed and 4 others wounded. 

18:50 Photos are published of Azerbaijani special forces servicemen killed in Talish/Madagiz area; Karabakh defense army says that in addition to the two helicopters throughout the day Azerbaijani forces lost two tanks and two UAVs in Mardakert direction and two tanks in southern direction. The video and photos of the Azerbaijani Mi-24G helicopter wreckage are published. Also on April 2, an Armenian T-72 was hit and its crew of three killed in southern direction.

Officials in Iran's East Azerbaijan province report that several shells fired in Armenian-Azerbaijani artillery exchanges have landed on Iranian territory damaging local power supply, but caused no casualties. 

Reservists gather in Stepanakert as partial mobilization begins among Karabakh residents. Additionally, thousands of volunteers - many of them veterans of the 1992-4 war - begin arriving in Stepanakert from throughout Armenia. 

19:35 Karabakh Defense Army publishes drone video from over Seysulan frontline showing about twenty bodies lying along the frontline, as well as one apparently damaged and abandoned armored de-mining vehicle. 

According to information subsequently gathered, Azerbaijani forces lost at least 36 servicemen throughout April 2. Of the 36, at least 19 were lost in the Seysulan attack, most of their bodies were collected on April 8, after the return to cease-fire. The others were lost near Talish in the north and around Laletepe in the south. Armenian killed in action for April 2 was later determined to be 37, 22 of them in the south, but most of their bodies remained in Azerbaijani hands and could not be accounted for until days later.

20:00 Sargsyan chairs the National Security Council meeting in Yerevan. In a televised portion he says that 18 Armenian servicemen have been confirmed killed and 35 wounded in the worst fighting since 1994, but that the Armenian military has "taken the situation under its control."

About 23:30, Azerbaijan TV airs a national security council meeting with Ilham Aliyev congratulating the Azerbaijani people on the "great victory" achieved as a result of "crushing blow" delivered by his forces that day, "capturing more advantageous positions" along the Line of Contact. In the same meeting, defense minister Zakir Hassanov claims that Azerbaijani forces "captured villages of Talish and Seysulan" (which they did not) and "heights in Horadiz direction" (which they did). Hassanov also reported artillery strikes against Armenian military bases in Agdere (Mardakert) and Matagis, claiming "huge Armenian losses."

Late on April 2 Defense Minister Hasanov told Aliyev that his forces had 'captured villages of Talish and Seysulan'. It is unclear if Hasanov himself was misinformed or if this false claim was made deliberately. 
April 3, Sunday

Armenian special forces fighter holds epaulet of a Lt. Col. of
Azerbaijan, likely that of 52nd brigade cmdr. Murad Mirzeyev.
Image grab from Artsakh TV.
07:00 After intense overnight fighting Armenian special forces from Mardakert and Yerevan-based units, reinforced with tanks from Mardakert division's reserve unit, push Azerbaijani special forces from 52nd brigade from key post #170. About a dozen Azerbaijani servicemen are killed and bodies of at least five of them, including brigade commander, remained under Armenian control. Subsequent efforts to recapture this key position resulted in additional heavy casualties among Azerbaijani special forces that apparently came under artillery fire. Later Armenian media reports, including from, showed bodies of Azerbaijani SF personnel killed in vicinity of Talish.

07:25 Karabakh Defense Army reports that Azerbaijan resumed artillery fire and offensive operations in southern direction at 06:00. 

11:35 Karabakh Defense Army reports intense fighting ongoing in northeast NK and near Araxes, says Armenian forces have pushed back Azerbaijani forces in Talish area; claims that Azerbaijani forces lost 2 more tanks, as well as 1 IFV in southern direction.

Midday: Journalists from Yerevan (CivilnetRFERLHetq168.amSputnik), Tbilisi (Rustavi2) and Moscow (RT, Meduza.ioKommersant) that arrived overnight in Stepanakert travel to Mardakert; some of them come under artillery fire and return to Stepanakert. 

Meantime, other journalists departing Yerevan in morning of April 3 are stuck in a snowstorm in southern Armenia; with snow in the mountains, it is raining in much of Karabakh foothills, also restricting combat operations.

Google map of Talish area, showing sites of attacks on civilians (incident #1),
military truck (#2) and post 170 (#3) on April 2. Courtesy of NKR Ombudsman.
15:00 Yerevan photographers Hakob Poghosyan and German Avagyan joined a group of policemen from Mardakert going to Talish to evacuate remaining civilians there. In the evening Hetq and Photolure publish Poghosyan's images from Talish of an elderly couple and their elderly female relative killed on April 2. Avagyan - whose photos from Talish on April 3 are here - and journalist Ilya Azar, who visited Talish on April 6, noted that the house where the killings of civilians took place was at the very edge of the village, closest to the frontline. Italy's Sky TV interviewed Hakob Poghosyan about his photographs. 

16:25 Karabakh Defense Army dismissed Azerbaijani MoD's claims of unilateral cease-fire and says that fighting continues; adds that return to cease-fire is possible only when the cease-fire line is restored to where it was on April 1.

Azerbaijani MoD confirms three more of its soldiers killed; ANS TV shows footage of Azerbaijani forces shooting down what they believe is an Armenian drone. However, images of the drone look like an Israeli Aeronautics-made Orbiter drone used by Azerbaijan rather than any of the drones known to be used by Armenia. 

18:00 Russian Life News TV crew is ordered to leave Azerbaijan after its report from Tartar says that local residents are fleeing the Armenian artillery bombardment and were unhappy with the fighting; earlier in the day the Life News crew also recorded a report from Sarijali in Tartar district. A Georgian Rustavi TV crew was also detained by local police while attempting to report from the area.

22:00 Buses with volunteers, many of them veterans of the 1991-94 war, begin arriving in Stepanakert; some of the volunteers are interviewed by CivilNet

According to information subsequently gathered, throughout April 3, Armenian forces lost 6 servicemen and 1 reservist, and Azerbaijani forces - at least 19 servicemen, including several senior Special Forces officers. Most of that day's fatalities on both sides were in Talish area. In the south, another Armenian T-72 was hit by an anti-tank missile with a crew of three killed.

April 4, Monday

One of the Harop drones brought down by Armenian forces.
Photo by
04:00 In a later interview, Defense Army Zu-23-2 AA gun operator described shooting down a Harop UAV at about 04:00 on April 4; around the same time another Harop drone was reported brought down by another Armenian Zu-23-2 AA gun in the same area.  Flight radar data from later in the morning registered Azerbaijani Defense Ministry's Il-76 (AZAF8) transport plane arriving at Israeli military base and departing after several hours; the same Il-76 made another trip to Israel on April 6.

08:10 Karabakh Defense Army reports continued fighting and exchanges of fire using Grad MLRS and 152-mm artillery. At 10:45 Karabakh Defense Army claims Armenian forces have "retaken the initiative in the fighting," claims 3 Azerbaijani tanks hit in the north and 2 in the south. As later reports revealed, throughout morning and mid-day of April 4 Armenian forces launched attacks, but were unable to retake a series of military posts captured by Azerbaijani forces northeast of Talish on April 2.

Media group (inc. RT) travels to Mardakert, comes under artillery fire. An RFERL video captures an Israeli-produced Harop drone striking a target in Mardakert district. Among targets hit by Harop drones was a bus with volunteers from Sisian area standing at entrance to Talish, seven people on the bus are killed immediately or shortly after attack, two of the injured died days later. 

13:30 Karabakh Defense army reports that Azerbaijan has for the first time fired from Tos-1A MLRS reportedly in Talish area, but caused no significant damage; claims Armenian forces destroyed three attack drones. Harop drones were used to attack buildings and military and civilian vehicles in Talish-Madagis area, videos released by Azerbaijani defense ministry the following day appeared to show Harop strikes on a military facility in Talish and, possibly, three Armenian T-72s. 

In Yerevan, Serge Sargsyan meets with ambassadors from OSCE countries; notes that Azerbaijani attacks included atrocities committed against elderly civilians, among them a 92-year-old female resident of Talish. Sargsyan also mentions "only a few minutes ago" the use by Azerbaijani forces of the Tos systems, recently sold to Azerbaijan by Russia. He calls for de-escalation and return to pre-April 2 positions, but claims Azerbaijani advances were limited to "200-300 meters." Later in the day, Armenian media carries two other reports with Sargsyan, on visit to military hospital in Erebuni and a church ceremony in central Yerevan, honoring soldiers killed in combat.

Azerbaijani sources claim that Israeli-produced Spike anti-tank guided missiles helped knock out a number of Armenian T-72s; photos subsequently confirmed use of Spike ATGMs.

13:55 Karabakh Defense Army reports continued intense fighting in the north and in the south; says Azerbaijani side lost 3 tanks in Mardakert direction. Since April 2, Az. side is estimated to have lost 14 tanks and 5 IFVs. Grad missile and 152-mm artillery fire continues against Mardakert.

In the afternoon, Armenian forces observe Azerbaijani armor build up along the frontline in Agdam district. This video from Azerbaijani side shows at least 18 Az. tanks, 1 IFV and 1 armored recovery vehicle "moving towards Agdam." Armenian artillery opens fire on tanks and other Azerbaijani positions up to 10 km from the LoC. On April 6, Azerbaijani service of Russian Sputnik news agency reported on damage to civilians in Mahrizli, saying that "more than 100" shells and Grad rockets hit villages of Mahrizli and Zangishali in Agdam district in the evening of April 4. 

16:31 Russia's Life News claims some of the hundreds of Azerbaijani citizens fighting for ISIS in Syria would join the fight in Karabakh; the report followed the expulsion of the channel's crew from Azerbaijan and was not otherwise substantiated. The following day Azerbaijani government promised to arrest any ISIS members arriving in Azerbaijan.

19:00 Karabakh Defense Army operations chief Col. Viktor Arustamyan holds a briefing for foreign media, reports Armenian losses at 20 killed, 72 wounded and 26 missing, as well as 7 tanks lost; estimates Azerbaijani side's losses at 18 tanks, 2 helicopters, 1 Grad MLRS and 6 UAVs. Says Azerbaijani army captured and retained 5 posts in Nuzger-Horadiz direction on Lale Tepe hills and 3 posts in Tapkarakoyunlu-Talish direction. 

Azerbaijan's threat to bomb civilians, including in Stepanakert (Xankendi in Azerbaijani), was issued in three languages.
19:15 Azerbaijani Minister of Defense publicly orders "preparations of heavy missile-artillery forces for a strike on Xankendi area," the Azerbaijani name for Stepanakert. In response, Defense Army warns Azerbaijani military command of a "painful response" if its threat to attack Stepanakert is carried out. Later in the year, Armenian Public TV reported that as of April 3, Armenian forces were ready to launch Iskander, Scud and Tochka ballistic missiles at Azerbaijani targets should Armenian towns come under Azerbaijani missile attack.

19:17 The Russian Southern Military District reports its Dagestan-based motor-rifle brigade (1000 men, 300 units of equipment) holding snap exercises near Buinaksk, practicing counter-insurgency tactics; those exercises continued for several days. 

22:30 A bus with a group of journalists returning from Madagis to Mardakert comes under artillery fire, no casualties reported. 

23:30 - a news site controlled by the Azerbaijani president's office - citing its "regional correspondent" claims the Azerbaijani forces had captured Madagis, Karabakh MoD denies the report at 23:59, and no evidence of Azerbaijani advance in this area is subsequently furnished.

According to FlightRadar data, a Russian Il-76 flies to Yerevan via Azerbaijan and Iran.

According to information subsequently gathered, throughout April 4, 19 Armenian military personnel and 12 volunteers were killed in fighting, as were 30 Azerbaijani military personnel. Nearly all fatalities on April 4 were in Talish area.

April 5, Tuesday
08:35 Karabakh Defense Army reports heavy artillery fire overnight, including first use of Smerch MLRS in southern direction; Armenian MoD reports that Tavush border villages came under fire.

10:00 Az. MoD says that 16 of its soldiers have been killed ‘in last 2 days’ for total of 31 killed. At this time, exiled Azerbaijani journalists at Meydan TV and elsewhere publish names and photographs of some 50 Azerbaijani servicemen killed, in subsequent days that number would exceed 90.

11:45 Karabakh Defense Army reports continued artillery attacks against civilian areas in Mardakert and Martuni districts. Video published of Armenian Osa-AKM crew hitting another Azerbaijani drone, likely an Orbiter 2M

12:53 An anonymous Armenian military source, citing Azerbaijani threats against Stepanakert, threatens a ballistic missile strike on Azerbaijani energy infrastructure.

14:00 Russian president's spokesman Dmitry Peskov is cited as saying that developments in Karabakh are causing "growing concerns" and that "energetic efforts are underway" to address these concerns. Later in the day, Russian media reports that Putin made calls to Aliyev and Sargsyan. Reports surface that Armenian and Azerbaijani chiefs of staff generals Khachaturov and Sadykov met in Moscow and agreed to cease fire. According to Khachaturov he flew to Moscow after invitation from Russian counterpart Valery Gerasimov. Initially, Armenian side insisted on returning to April 1 cease-fire line, but then agreed to the loss of the two heights.
Azerbaijani Smerch missile salvo hit an old Azerbaijani cemetery near the border with Iran. Photo by Sputnik Armenii.

14:00 During a media trip to an Armenian artillery battery SE of Hadrut, no shooting is reported. Report by Ilya Azar of Meduza; video report by RT. Reporters photograph Smerch munitions launched by Azerbaijani forces that landed near Shukurbeyli, some 10 kilometers from the LoC and about 1 kilometer from the Iranian border. Later in the day, the Armenian Defense Ministry's spokesman published additional photos of Smerch munitions that landed in Karabakh. 

14:44 RT reports that Karabakh forces agreed to truce "since noon;" Azerbaijan confirms it had also ceased fire soon after. In a later interview, Defense Army's then operations chief Arustamyan revealed that, having secured the return of two key positions at north/northwest of Talish and Seysulana, a decision was taken to suspend efforts to return other positions lost northeast of Talish and in the south to avoid additional casualties.

In Yerevan, President Sargsyan attends a funeral of an Armenian serviceman killed in combat. Later in the day, president's office reports that Sargsyan had departed Yerevan for a previously-scheduled visit to Germany that would last thru April 7.

Afternoon: After a 2-day media silence, Azerbaijani TV shows Aliyev visiting a military hospital in Baku and later speaking to two dozen relatives of servicemen wounded in fighting; Aliyev says that a "crushing blow was delivered against the enemy" and that Azerbaijan is ready to cease fire. 

19:00 Karabakh Defense Army briefing reports Armenian side suffered 29 confirmed killed with more than 20 others missing, 101 wounded and 14 tanks lost; estimates Az. side's losses at 24 tanks, 5 IFVs, 2 helicopters, 1 Grad system, 12 UAVs.

Throughout April 5, isolated clashes continued with two Armenian and two Azerbaijani servicemen killed by hostile fire in vicinity of Madagis and Talish.

Armenian soldiers at recaptured Post 170 near Talish. Photo via Shuli Hakobyan facebook

April 6, Wednesday

While the cease-fire held generally, a media group visiting Talish heard some shelling in the area. Later in the day, the Karabakh defense ministry reported deaths of two volunteers that day, one near Talish and another in the southeast. Additionally, a medical emergency vehicle was reportedly fired upon by an Azerbaijani tank near LoC as it was in the area to collect bodies of tank crew killed days earlier.

22:45 An Armenian ZSU-23-4 AA self-propelled gun reportedly brought down another Harop suicide drone; this Harop's warhead was later reported destroyed by the Karabakh branch of HALO Trust.

April 7, Thursday

First lady Mehriban Aliyeva is shown meeting with more than 100 female relatives of soldiers killed in combat; the press release acknowledges only 31 Azerbaijani servicemen killed, even though name of nearly 100 killed are widely circulated in social media.

7PM: Defense army reported an Azerbaijani-launched UAV shot down in Askeran area. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry for its part reported that it managed to recover an intact Armenian-made X-55-type reconnaissance UAV.

10PM: Shooting and explosions reported in Stepanakert as an Azerbaijani drone was reportedly brought down on city outskirts. According to NK military sources, this was the first recorded attempt by Azerbaijan to dispatch a UAV to over Stepanakert, some 40km from the LoC, and coincided with the OSCE Minsk Group diplomats' visit there.

April 8-10, Friday-Sunday

After the sides agreed to exchange bodies of soldiers killed in action and left on the battlefield and facilitate searches for those missing, remains of 21 Armenian and 13 Azerbaijani servicemen are exchanged at Bash Karvend; Pvt. Sloyan's head was also returned, but heads of two other military personnel killed near Talish were never recovered. Nearly all of the remains of Armenian servicemen came from the captured Armenian positions at or near Leletepe in the south, all of the Azerbaijani remains were of special forces personnel killed near Talish in the north. Dozens more bodies of Azerbaijani personnel were collected from no-man's land, mostly near Armenian positions at Seysulan and Talish.

Image grab from Armenia's H1 TV showing Azerbaijani personnel collecting bodies near Armenian positions at Seysulan on Apr. 8.
April 26-28, Tuesday-Thursday

Following a relative hiatus in fighting, Armenian and Azerbaijani forces engaged in three straight nights of artillery exchanges, using 122/152mm howitzers and BM-21 Grad systems, as well as mortars; subsequently HALO Trust reported that parts of the Mardakert district were hit with Israeli-produced M095 cluster munitions fired from Lar-160 MLRS. The Armenian side reported two servicemen killed by hostile fire on April 26. Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry did not report on its military casualties, but its Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed there were some. 

The shelling focused on an area roughly up to 10km from LoC, as well as frontline positions. Armenian side reported attacks on Madagis, Nerkin Oratagh and the town of Mardakert. Azerbaijan reported Armenian attacks in Goranboy, Terter, Agdam and Agjabedi districts and civilian damage. Armenian military claimed civilian damage was due to Azerbaijani forces locating artillery positions inside or near residential areas, publishing drone-shot footage of Azerbaijani positions.


Following exchanges of remains of soldiers initially listed as missing in action (MIA), the Armenian military's casualties for April 2-5 reached 64 military servicemen, 13 volunteers  / reservists and 4 local civilian residents killed by hostile fire and more than 120 wounded. The updated list of the names of Armenian fatalities is published here.

The Azerbaijani defense ministry did not release any additional casualty figures to 31 officially reported on April 5 and never published a more or less complete list of its casualties, reflecting the government's effort to present the war as less costly than it was. But Meydan TV, and collected information on more than 90 Azerbaijani servicemen killed in combat or missing (and presumed dead) and four civilians killed by shelling between April 2-5. Since the list was compiled primarily from public funerals reports, the real death toll remains unknown. At least 42 of those identified were special forces personnel, including chiefs of operations and intelligence for the Special Forces Command, special forces brigade commander and his chief of staff.

Consequences (updated in April 2019)

1. The April war became a culmination of the war of attrition that Azerbaijan began in 2014 to pressure Armenia into diplomatic compromises and was followed by a decline in violence on Armenian-Azerbaijani frontline in 2017-19. This likely happened because the April fighting showed the structural limits both sides had and the costs they would bear in case of more extensive fighting.

2. In both Armenia and Azerbaijan the war was followed by an extensive shake-up in the armed forces command. In 2017, Azerbaijan rounded up some 200 servicemen suspected of being "Armenian spies" or otherwise assisting the Armenian side in April 2016 or since. As a result, 14 military personnel are believed to have died under torture, about a dozen sentenced to prison terms and more forced to leave the country.

3. The war and decline in tensions that followed opened a window of opportunity for a protest movement in Armenia to challenge and replace the long-ruling party of Serzh Sargsyan.

4. The war initially helped suck the oxygen out of the social protests in Azerbaijan that appeared to be spreading in early 2016. But the government change in Armenia and opposition activism in Azerbaijan have led the Aliyev regime to focus on re-calibrating its domestic tactics, increase social spending and announce "reform" programs.

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