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Heavy losses as Azerbaijan makes gains in Fuzuli

On October 17, Azerbaijani forces took control of the south-eastern city of Fuzuli and seven surrounding villages.

The current military escalation between Armenia and Azerbaijan is the most serious since the 1991-1994 conflict in which 30,000 were killed.

The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, announced that the Azeri army had gained control of the villages of Gochehmedli, Chimen, Chuvarli, Pirehmedli, Musabeyli, Ishigli, and Dedeli in the district of Fuzuli as well as the city of Fuzuli.

In 1993, Fuzuli fell to Armenian forces and has since been administered by the Hadrut region of the Republic of Artsakh. Artsakh is internationally recognized as a part of Azerbaijan, but it is closely integrated with Armenia, and in many ways functions as de facto part of Armenia.

The capture of Fuzuli is strategically important as it enables Azerbaijani forces to advance north into Karabakh. President Aliyev hailed the military operation on Fuzuli as “symbolic” as it was the most highly fortified Armenian defence line in the region.

Nagorno-Karabakh has been the focus of the recent military escalation between Armenia and Azerbaijan, with the majority of combat operations taking place in and around the enclave.

Officials in Nagorno-Karabakh have revealed that since 27 September 772 of its military personnel and 37 civilians have been killed. Azerbaijan has said that 61 Azeri civilians have been killed and 291 wounded, but has not disclosed its military casualties.

Armenia and Azerbaijan had agreed to a humanitarian ceasefire to begin at midnight on 17 October. This was violated within minutes. A spokesperson from the Armenian Ministry of Defence said that Azerbaijan broke the truce within four minutes, firing artillery shells towards the north. Azerbaijan later said Armenia had broken the truce after two minutes.

The following day, on 18 October, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence announced that an Armenian Sukhoi-25 plane was shot down in the in the Jabrayil region. The jet was reportedly destroyed by Azerbaijani forces using an S-300 missile defence system.

Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) records casualties (i.e. people killed and injured) from explosive violence around the world as reported in English-language news sources.

Prior to the recent escalation, figures from AOAV’s database showed that between 2012 and July 2020 there were just 137 casualties from explosive violence in Armenia and Azerbaijan combined. Over these eight years, 16 civilians were killed and a further 39 injured.

AOAV condemns the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and calls on states and the international community to urgently address the threat of explosive weapons attacks that directly impact civilians.

AOAV’s analysis of recent developments in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict can be found here.