On October 14, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry announced that its forces had conducted strikes on Armenian operational-tactical ballistic missile systems in the Armenian border area, near the Kalbajar District of the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The Azerbaijani military claimed that the destroyed missiles “were targeted at Ganja, Mingachevir and other cities of Azerbaijan to inflict casualties among the peaceful population and to destroy civilian infrastructure.”
The Armenian Defense Ministry confirmed the strikes denying any casualties and threatening Azerbaijan with retaliatory strikes on military targets inside the country. “From now on, the Armed Forces of Armenia reserve the right to attack any military object or military movement in Azerbaijan. The military-political leadership of Azerbaijan bears full responsibility for the process of changing the logic of the combat actions,” the defense ministry spokesperson said.
Also, Armenia claimed that it had shot down an Azerbaijani Su-25 warplane. This was the second warplane of this type claimed to have been shot down by Armenia in recent days. In both cases, no evidence to confirm the claims was provided.
According to both Armenian and Azerbaijani sources intense clashes and artillery duels have been ongoing in the northern and southern parts of Karabakh.
On October 13, the Azerbaijani military released their own video from the surroundings of the town of Hadrut in the Nagorno-Karabakh region claiming control over the town.
Earlier, Armenian sources and journalists working on the Armenian side released several videos from the same area claiming that the town is in the hands of Armenian forces. This situation goes contrary to the official stance of the Azerbaijani leadership. According to the official version, the town was captured by Azerbaijan several days ago.
Nonetheless, the issue with the new Azerbaijani proof from Hadrut is that the video was in fact filmed in the village of Tagaser, which is located west of the town. Thus, in the best case for Azerbaijani forces the town of Hadrut is now contested, and in the worst case it is in the hands of Armenian forces.
This is a major blow to the official Azerbaijani propaganda that keeps claiming at the highest level that the town has been ‘liberated from Armenian occupiers’.
On the other hand, the potential military success of Azerbaijan on this part of the frontline could easily lead to the collapse of the Armenian defense near the town of Fizuli and its subsequent loss to Azerbaijani forces. This is a desired outcome for Azerbaijan.
Thus, its military will continue its advance in the area despite public claims about its supposed commitment to the October 10 ceasefire regime with only retaliatory actions to Armenian violations.
In fact, the fate of the entire ceasefire is now being determined in the Haradut area. If Azerbaijan fully captures the town, it will likely try to develop momentum thus publicly resuming full-scale offensive operations.
If the Azerbaijani side fails to capture the town, the Armenian-Azerbaijani confrontation will likely continue in a form of a positional standoff with intense use of artillery, air power (mostly by Azerbaijan) and sporadic firefights on the frontline.
Meanwhile, Ankara and Baku will evaluate their position and consider their chances in the event of further attacks in the current format.
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*All posts on behalf of South Front are made by Gordon Duff