Azerbaijan has begun a devastating assault across multiple locations on the eastern border of Armenia.
The Armenian Ministry of Defense reported, "intensive shelling" of Armenian positions and civilian infrastructure in Sotk, Vardenis, Goris, Kapan, Jermuk, Artanish, and Ishkhanasar. According to Armenian officials, Azerbaijan employs combat drones, artillery, and large-caliber guns. The September 13 assaults began just after midnight. The towns and villages under attack are located in the provinces of Syunik, Gegharkunik, and Vayots Dzor, which border Azerbaijan to the east of Armenia.
Defense officials in Armenia indicate an unconfirmed number of casualties. As of 4:00 a.m., the Armenian Ministry of Defense reported that border fighting continues with "unabated intensity" and that the Azerbaijani military has begun "positional advancement actions."
According to the Armenian Ombudswoman Kristine Grigoryan, Azerbaijani forces are targeting civilian infrastructure, including residential homes. Since midnight, the human rights defender's office has received reports that Kapan, Goris, Jermuk, Vardenis, and other localities have been subjected to intense shelling, placing their civilian populations in "great danger."
Artur Hojabaghyan, the Goris Coordinator for the Security Council, informed reporters that shelling could be heard in Goris. He urged locals to seek refuge in shelters instead of trying to flee the city.
The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense confirmed the assaults and stated that they were in response to "provocations" and "large-scale sabotage" by the Armenian side, which Armenian military officials have called "a complete fabrication." Members of the Armenian army forces buried mines in the Kelbajar and Lachin areas, which were ceded to Azerbaijan after the 2020 Artsakh War, according to the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense.
In the hours following the start of the strikes, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan presided over a Security Council meeting. Regarding the assault against the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia, the council decided to formally apply to Russia under the terms of a mutual defense agreement, as well as to the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the UN Security Council.
Before this meeting, PM Pashinyan spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the phone to convey "details about the provocative, aggressive actions of the Azerbaijani armed forces" against sovereign Armenian land. The Armenian prime minister also spoke with French president Emmanuel Macron about "provocative and aggressive military operations" against Armenia. The Prime Minister "emphasized the importance of a suitable response from the international community," according to readouts of each call from the Prime Minister's office.
The statement indicates that Pashinyan and Putin agreed to maintain operational contact. In the meanwhile, Macron deemed an escalation of tension intolerable.
Freedom House, a human rights organization in the United States, stated that it was "alarmed by reports that the Azerbaijani Armed Forces were shelling the southern Armenian settlements of Goris, Jermuk, Vardenis, and Sotk with great intensity." Freedom House tweeted, "We demand an immediate ceasefire and urge both sides to find a peaceful resolution."
US Representative Adam Schiff, a longtime supporter of the Armenian American community and vice-chair of the Congressional Armenian Caucus, is demanding an immediate end to US arms and aid to Azerbaijan in response to its "egregious violation of the ceasefire and direct attack on Armenia's sovereignty."
Jackie Speier, the co-chair of the Congressional Armenian Caucus, also expressed her concern. She tweeted, "These are internationally recognized Armenian towns, NOT disputed territory." It is inexcusable that the United States continues to offer military aid to Aliyev.
Authorities from Artsakh said that Azerbaijani military forces opened fire on Armenian positions in Karmir Shuka and Taghavard in the Martuni district of Artsakh just one day before these continuing attacks. The fire commenced at 4:00 a.m. on September 12 and continued for thirty minutes. Gegham Stepanyan, the Artsakh Ombudsman, reported that two residential homes in Karmir Shuka and one property in Taghavard were damaged.
As of 1:50 a.m. Tuesday, Artsakh officials reported that the border is reasonably stable.
The strikes follow two weeks of daily charges of ceasefire violations against Armenia by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense, all of which were refuted by the Armenian Ministry of Defense.
Meanwhile, on September 5, the Azerbaijani fire killed 19-year-old Armenian soldier Arman Gagik Sargsyan, who was stationed at an Armenian military post in Gegharkunik. Three days later, the Armenian Ministry of Defense reported that Azerbaijani forces had fired upon Armenian positions along the southeastern portion of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. There were no recorded casualties.
On September 10, Azerbaijani Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov convened a meeting with the top military commanders, during which they were "ordered to be prepared to immediately and decisively suppress any provocation."
Armenian lawmakers have warned that Azerbaijan could restart its provocations in light of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense's repeated charges of ceasefire violations and the conclusion of the Defense Ministry meeting.
Edmon Marukyan, Armenia's ambassador-at-large, posted on Facebook on September 12: "When Azerbaijan plans its latest border provocation, it organizes a pretext based on false information to legitimize that provocation before carrying it out."
Marukyan stated, "All international community actors interested in the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process and the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must carefully follow and clearly understand that Azerbaijan has once again begun preparations for a provocation."