Thursday, July 16, 2020

Armenia Azerbaijan Fighting, July 2020: A working chronology

  View of the Garadash high ground and the village of Agdam from the south. Image from social media.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

4PM Azerbaijani MoD reports about a “provocation” by Armenian forces, artillery (most likely mortars) fired by Armenian forces and casualties “from both sides.”

4:54PM Armenian MoD reports that at 12:30PM Azerbaijani forces in UAZ military vehicle approached an Armenian-controlled military position on border between Azerbaijan’s Tovuz district and Armenia’s Tavush province, between villages of Agdam and Movses. There is a video of that UAZ approaching. According to Armenan MoD, after "warning" from Armenian side, Azerbaijani personnel abandoned the vehicle and withdrew. Per Arm. MoD at 13:55 Azerbaijani forces used artillery fire and tried to capture this Armenian-held position  but were rebuffed. Armenia's DM David Tonoyan later emphasized that the Armenian position was located within Armenian territory.

5:20PM Azerbaijani MoD reports 2 dead and 5 wounded among its military personnel; at 10PM one of the wounded likely died and names of three dead – two NCOs and one draftee - were published.

10:49PM Armenian MoD reports 82mm mortar and tank attacks against the Armenian-held post.

As it became clear in subsequent days, at some point before noon on July 12, Armenian forces established a new position on the high ground between Movses and Agdam that both helped better protect the village of Movses from Azerbaijani attacks and also threatened the supply line to the Azerbaijani position in front of Agdam. 

While such redeployments happen regularly along the frontline, this one - likely because of location and timing - proved to be sensitive for Azerbaijan and triggered days of fighting.

Area along Armenian-Azerbaijani border between villages of Movses and Aghdam where the July 12-16 fighting was concentrated. Google Maps.

Monday, July 13, 2020

1AM Armenian MoD reports Azerbaijani artillery attacks in Berd area of Tavush province.

8AM Armenian MoD reports increase in Azerbaijani artillery attacks.

9AM Azerbaijani MoD publishes drone-shot video of a drone or missile strike on Armenian position likely conducted the previous day.

10:30AM Armenian MoD reports two police guards and later three military servicemen are wounded by Azerbaijani shelling.

10:30AM Azerbaijani MoD reports a junior officer killed in Tovuz area fighting; later determined that he was from Aqstafa-based artillery unit.

3PM Video published of Ilham Aliyev speaking to his officials via Zoom. He claims that the Armenian side launched a "provocation," with “sudden” artillery attack killing Azerbaijani soldiers, but denies any “Azerbaijani territory” was lost. Says Azerbaijani forces have “taken revenge” and “fulfilled their tasks.” Claims Armenia is “in chaos” and is “envious” of Azerbaijani successes. Says Azerbaijan has international support on Karabakh issue.

4PM Armenian MoD reports relative decline in Azerbaijani artillery and drone strikes, says 7 82mm and 3 120mm mortars hit the village of Chinari, causing property damage.

9PM Reporting for Az. TV from Tovuz Heydar Mirza says things are relatively quiet in the evening.

11PM Azerbaijani MoD publishes another drone video of a strike against what looks like a parking lot for army trucks.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

8:40AM Arm. MoD says at night some Az. tank movements observed and was curtailed by Armenian fire; say situation "calm at the moment," and promise to later publish "interesting footage"; the footage, including drone video of a strike that likely killed senior Az. officers is published at 5PM. According to Az. state TV's Heydar Mirza the group of officers was struck some time around 6AM.

11AM Armenian MoD reports “Berd’s civilian infrastructure” has been attacked by "drone" strikes, no casualties reported.

Noon. 75-year-old resident of Agdam village of Tovuz district reportedly killed by mortar shell. His daughter told BBC's Azerbaijani Service that other family members left the house on Monday as shelling intensified. 

12:50PM Azerbaijani MoD publishes video of what appear to be three separate Spike-NLOS strikes on buildings and vehicles. Armenian MoD publishes video of its own mortar attacks.

Polad Hashimov (marked with arrow) seen with Ilham Aliyev and other senior officers after the April war of 2016. 

1PM Azerbaijani Deputy DM Gen. Kerim Veliyev reports on the death of the 3rd Corps chief of staff Gen. Polad Hashimov, artillery chief Col. Ilgar Mirzeyev, two other officers and three NCOs. Full list is published by Az. MoD at 2:39PM. Unofficial reports suggest that the officers were killed when their vehicle was struck by a drone or missile and that corps intelligence chief was seriously wounded as well; the group was reportedly traveling along the frontline inside a military medical vehicle (its driver was one of the NCOs killed). One of the other NCOs killed was later confirmed to be a tank operator, confirming the Armenian claim that an Azerbaijan tank was hit.

2:30PM Armenian MoD reports two officers killed: Maj. Garush Hambartsumyan was commander of a military engineering unit and Capt. Sos Elbakyan, an artillery officer.

4PM Armenian newspaper Hraparak reports that Azerbaijani forces have hit "an object of strategic importance in Tavush;" Armenian MoD initially refuses to comment, later denies the report.

5PM Armenian MoD reports its air defense forces shot down a coordinating reconnaissance drone; at 7PM MoD publishes video of what it id's as Azerbaijan's Elbit Systems’ Hermes-900 in the air, followed by video of surface-to-air missile launch. As it emerged later the drone was targeted with Osa-AKM air defense system while flying over Azerbaijani side of the frontline; it remained unclear if it was in fact shot down.

6PM Reporting for Az. TV from Dondar Gushchu Heydar Mirza showed damage to a home in the village, denied Armenian MoD’s claims that Azerbaijani artillery was based in the area.

6PM Armenian MoD reports deaths of two army draftees in Berd area. In a later briefing Artsrun Hovannisyan said that they died in shelling away from the frontline. Hraparak claimed they were killed in the attack on "the object of strategic importance" that they wrote about previously. Later reports suggested they were likely killed in missile strike on the base of Armenia's Mehrab regiment (located to the south of Berd regiment), with video of the attack released the following day.

7:36PM Azerbaijani MoD publishes drone video of attack on building next to a deployed Armenian artillery battery; another drone video of shelling of a building published at 8:40 PM.

9PM Reporting for Az. TV from Agdam village of Tovuz district Heydar Mirza reported there were artillery exchanges earlier, but quiet now.

9PM-4AM. Thousands of protesters gather in Baku, call for war with Armenia, replacing senior military officials, enter parliament, fight with police, then dispersed by water cannons.

11PM In press briefing Arm. MoD’s Artsrun Hovannisyan reports quiet since 18:00, says prior to that fighting involved tanks, howitzers and Grad MLRS; later reports suggested that Azerbaijani forces fired Israeli Spike-NLOS missiles rather than Grad. Hovhannisian also claimed between 5 and 10 drones shot down over three days. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Midnight. Azerbaijan MoD's spokesperson denies Grad MLRS was used, confirms things returned to calm. Az. MoD publishes a drone video of a fire at what appears to be an Armenian military facility.

7:30AM Azerbaijani MoD publishes Spike-NLOS video of a strike against what appears to be an Armenian military facility seen in video published at midnight. Another video of three separate Spike-NLOS strikes on buildings is published at 9:35AM.

11AM MoD’s Artsrun Hovannisyan confirmed that the Armenian side had 4 killed in action and 20 wounded (including 2 police), of whom 10 needed medical attention and of those 5 are in serious condition, and 1 in severe condition. Claims that Azerbaijan’s 3rd Corps and Border Guards used ‘most’ of their military arsenal in the fighting, up to 122mm artillery and possibly higher caliber. He estimated some 50 artillery shells fired at half a dozen Armenian border settlements. For the first time, SkyStriker drones were used by Azerbaijan in combat. Some 10 drones shot down include smaller reconnaissance UAVs, as well as strike drones and the Hermes-900. 

Armenian MoD later claimed a total of 13 drones shot down, 10 of them strike drones and others - reconnaissance. However, in a later report, Armenia's Investigative Service confirmed the launch of a total of 10 strike UAVs, of which 6 hit Armenian targets, 1 was captured and other presumably shot down in the air.

Armenian servicemen with captured SkyStriker drone produced by Israel's Elbit Systems. Social media.

Morning. CivilNet reports on damage caused by mortar shelling in the village of Aygepar; Hetq interviews a couple whose home was damaged. Another video shows damage in nearby village of Nerkin Karmiraghbyr from shelling the previous night.

Report surfaces of Armenia-based Russian military helicopters making flights along the border with Turkey (with video likely recorded the previous day); Russian officials described the flights as part of general training, "not connected" to Turkish officials' expression of support for Azerbaijan.

3PM Azerbaijani MoD publishes what appears to be a drone video of a burning vehicle.

4PM Azerbaijani MoD publishes video of what appears to be another Spike-NLOS strike on Armenian military facility.

8:45PM Armenian MoD reports calm throughout the day with only occasional small arms fire.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

3:40AM. Armenian forces confront fresh Azerbaijani attack. Starting from 4:20AM social media reports surface of fresh artillery exchanges in Tovuz/Tavush area. Armenian MoD issues a statement on renewed fighting at about 7AM, Azerbaijani MoD closer to 8AM. Later in the day, Azerbaijani MoD confirms one more servicemen killed in action.

10AM. Armenian MoD reports hitting an Azerbaijani tank and artillery positions.

Turkish defense minister and military commanders meet with Azerbaijan generals (in civilian cloths). Official photo.
11AM-1PM. Turkish defense minister Hulusi Akar meets Azerbaijan’s deputy defense minister / air force chief Ramiz Tahirov and Nakhichevan army commander Kerem Mustafayev; Akar, who previously expressed support for Azerbaijani military, makes threatening comments about Armenia. (Video.) Azerbaijani delegation also meets with head of Turkish military industry Ismayil Demir, who promises new weapons and training for Azerbaijani army. Shortly after the visit a Turkish air force transport plane makes two flights to Baku on July 16 and 17. Azerbaijani delegation meets with Akar again on July 20.

11:30AM. Azerbaijan's MoD reports shooting down Armenian tactical reconnaissance drone; Armenian MoD denies losing any drones, claims that the published picture is of an old incident.

1:20PM Armenian MoD reports that it will hold fire and allow Azerbaijani forces to pick up bodies of servicemen killed in the morning's fighting, as long as Azerbaijan maintains cease-fire.

4:45PM Azerbaijani DM's spokesperson threatens to attack Armenia's nuclear power plant to cause a leak of radiation. According to a quote published by Azerbaijani media: "the Armenian side should not forget that Azerbaijan’s most modern missile systems allow hitting the Metsamor nuclear power plant with high accuracy, which could lead to a major disaster to Armenia." Previously a similar threat was made in June 2018, after Azerbaijan bought the LORA surface-to-surface missile system from Israel.

8PM Armenian MoD reports that a parked emergency vehicle was hit by an Azerbaijani strike drone earlier in the day.

9PM Azerbaijani MoD published a video of a burning structure, which it claimed was used as barracks by Armenian army; at 10 PM Azerbaijani MoD published a video of a strike on what it claimed was an "Armenian army logistics vehicle." Journalist David Galstyan figured out that the two strikes were within meters of each other and targeted a civilian structure and a parked car, while a Gaz-66 - possibly an army truck- parked nearby remained unscathed.

Friday, July 17, 2020

8:30AM Armenian MoD reports relative calm overnight with only small arms fire heard. Armenia's Investigative Committee reported that over four days 4 Armenians servicemen were killed and 36 - wounded. Four army vehicles were damaged. Additionally, shelling of Tavush settlements wounded 1 civilian in Chinari, damaged 1 kindergarten (in Aygepar), 24 homes in half a dozen localities, 4 cars, 1 brandy and 1 wine factory, 1 cemetery, 1 water pipeline, local gas pipelines and one guard booth (where 2 police guards were wounded).

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Morning. Az. MoD reports shooting down Armenian reconnaissance drones, one past midnight in Artsakh, another in the morning in Tavush; Arm. MoD denies the drones were shot down.

6PM After several days of relative calm Armenian MoD reports stepped up sniper attacks in Tavush/Tovuz area.

10:30PM Armenian MoD reports beating back another Special Forces attack on "Unvakh" ("Fearless") post previously attacked on July 16; Az. MoD denies any attack or casualties. Both sides report return to calm in subsequent days.

Gen. Grigory Khachaturov awarded by Prime Minister Pashinyan on August 28, 2020.

Friday, August 28, 2020

At a ceremony in front of the Sardarabad memorial, the Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan awarded a group of more than 70 servicemen who were recognized for their role in Tavush fighting. Among the awardees was Armenian 3rd Corps cmdr. Gen. Grigory Khachaturov and the corps' reconnaissance company commander Capt. Ruben Sanamyan.

(All times local for Armenia/Azerbaijan.)

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