2020 Barda missile attacks

Summary

Barda missile attacks
Part of 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war
LocationBarda, Əyricə, and Qarayusifli, Azerbaijan
Date
  • 27 October 2020
  • 28 October 2020
  • 7 November 2020 (GMT+4)
Attack type
Missile attack
Weapons
Deaths27
Injured85
Perpetrators

The Barda missile attacks (Azerbaijani: Bərdənin bombalanması) was a series of three air attacks on the city of Barda, as well as the villages of Əyricə and Qarayusifli in the same district, in Azerbaijan during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war. The attacks involved BM-30 Smerch missiles with cluster warheads, and resulted in 27 civilian deaths.

The first attack took place on 27 October, killing 5 civilians and wounding 13 more. The next day, on 28 October, several missiles struck Barda, killing 21 civilians, including a Red Crescent volunteer, and wounding 60 more. It was the deadliest attack on civilians and the worst civilian death toll during the war.[1][2][3] On 7 November, the Armenian forces fired a rocket on the village of Əyricə, killing a 16-year-old boy.[4]

Azerbaijan accused Armenia of the attacks and stated that cluster munitions had been used against civilians. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International verified the use of cluster munition by Armenia, adding that the "firing of cluster munitions into civilian areas is cruel and reckless, and causes untold death, injury and misery."[5][6] Armenia denied any responsibility, while the unrecognized Republic of Artsakh admitted responsibility for the attacks but stated that it had targeted military facilities.

Background

On 27 September 2020, clashes broke out in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is mostly de facto controlled by Artsakh, but de jure part of Azerbaijan.[7] Barda is home to a population of 40 thousand people;[8] and is situated about 20 kilometres (12 mi) northeast of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Line of Contact.[9]

Trilateral talks on the conflict between the foreign ministers of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan commenced on 9 October 2020 in Moscow.[10] Sergey Lavrov, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, and Jeyhun Bayramov participated in the talks.[11] Lavrov issued a joint statement following ten hours of talks that ended at 03:00 local time,[12] confirming that a humanitarian ceasefire would come into force at midday.[13][14] Minutes after the truce was due to commence, the two parties blamed each other for violating the ceasefire.[15]

Since 4 October, Azerbaijan's second-largest city Ganja, had been hit four times by Armenian and Artsakh missiles,[16] resulting in 25 civilians getting killed and 125 more injured.[17] On 8 October Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense reported that Barda District was shelled by a OTR-21 Tochka missile launcher.[18]

On 26 October, the United States announced that both sides had agreed to a humanitarian ceasefire from the morning of 26 October,[19] but it was violated minutes after taking into force, with both sides accusing each other of breaking it.[20]

Attacks

An Armenian BM-30 Smerch rocket launcher in 2017.

The first attack took place on 27 October, in Qarayusifli, killing 5 civilians and injuring 15 others.[21] It involved cluster missiles from a BM-30 Smerch multiple rocket launcher.[22] Human Rights Watch observed significant damage to 12 houses in the area.[21]

The second attack on 28 October occurred at around 13:00 local time. It involved cluster missiles that hit densely populated urban areas with trade facilities, which Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch confirmed.[6][5][23] As a result, 21 civilians were killed and over 70 were wounded.[24] Among the dead, was a 39-year-old Red Crescent volunteer, while two other volunteers were injured.[25] Civil infrastructure facilities and vehicles were extensively damaged,[26] including, according to Human Rights Watch, Barda Treatment and Diagnostic Center, State Migration Service office.[4] According to Azerbaijan, the second attack also involved a BM-30 Smerch[27] with a cluster warhead equipped with fragmentation warheads of 72–144 pieces in total.[28] Azerbaijan accused Armenia for the attacks,[29] which it denied any responsibility,[30] while Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch also stated that it was Armenia who had carried out the attack.[5][6] In the meanwhile, the unrecognized Republic of Artsakh admitted responsibility for the second attack, but stated that it had targeted military facilities.[31] New York Times reporting team was caught in an Armenian rocket attack driving along the main street of Barda.[32]

The third attack on 7 November occurred in the village of Əyricə. According to a Human Rights Watch report, the Armenian forces fired a rocket that struck an agricultural field near the village and killed a 16-year-old boy while he playing with other children. Azerbaijani authorities stated that they had identified the munition as a 9M528 Smerch rocket, which carries a warhead that produces blast and fragmentation effect. HRW reported that the researchers did not observe any military objectives in the area.[4]

Azerbaijani response

Soon after the attacks, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence released drone footage, claiming to have retaliated for the attacks,[33][34] especially targeting the Armenian manpower, rather than the equipment as previously displayed.[35][36][37]

The firing position of the BM-30 Smerch launcher involved in the attacks was identified by Azerbaijani army and on 29 October it was destroyed.[38] On 30 October, Azerbaijani Defense Ministry announced the destruction of two more Smerch launchers that had targeted Barda and Tartar.[39]

Reactions

In Azerbaijan, the attacks were strongly condemned, with the country's Presidential Administration calling the first attack a "new act of genocide",[40] while the Azerbaijani Ombudsman Sabina Aliyeva labelled the second attack a "terrorist act against civilians".[41] President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev promised a befitting response for the attacks.[42] Also, Vice President of Azerbaijan, Mehriban Aliyeva stated that the attacks were barbaric and expressed her condolences.[43][44]

On international scale, the attacks were condemned by Turkey[45][46] and Pakistani,[47] Iranian,[48] French,[49] and Kazakh[50] embassies in Azerbaijan, Iranian politician Hassan Ameli,[51] and the Turkic Council.[52]

Marie Struthers, Amnesty International's Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia stated that the "firing of cluster munitions into civilian areas is cruel and reckless, and causes untold death, injury and misery".[5] Similarly, Human Rights Watch released a report about the attack, confirming the use of cluster munitions and called Armenia to stop using banned weapons.[6]

References

  1. ^ Civilians Under Fire in Nagorno-Karabakh: September-November 2020 (Report). Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. 7 December 2020. p. 2. Retrieved 9 January 2021. ACLED records the highest number of civilian fatalities caused by a single attack during the six-week war in Barda city, where 21 civilians were killed and at least 70 others were wounded by the shelling
  2. ^ "Azerbaijan says Armenia used cluster bombs in deadly Barda attack". aljazeera.com. Al Jazeera. 28 October 2020. Wednesday’s strike marked the deadliest reported attack on civilians in a month of fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh.
  3. ^ "Haut-Karabakh : l'Azerbaïdjan accuse l'Arménie d'avoir tué des civils dans une attaque de missiles". Le Monde (in French). 28 October 2020. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  4. ^ a b c "Armenia: Unlawful Rocket, Missile Strikes on Azerbaijan". Human Rights Watch. 11 December 2020. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d "Armenia/Azerbaijan: First confirmed use of cluster munitions by Armenia 'cruel and reckless'". Amnesty International. 29 October 2020. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d "Armenia: Cluster Munitions Kill Civilians in Azerbaijan". Human Rights Watch. 30 October 2020. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  7. ^ "Armenia and Azerbaijan fight over disputed Nagorno-Karabakh". BBC. 27 September 2020. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  8. ^ "World Gazetteer: Azerbaijan". World Gazetteer. Retrieved 29 October 2020.[dead link]
  9. ^ Hacaoglu, Selcan; Arkhipov, Ilya (28 October 2020). "Erdogan Pitches Putin on Karabakh Peace After U.S. Bid Fails". BloombergQuint. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  10. ^ "Armenian, Azerbaijani officials to hold truce talks in Moscow". France24. 9 October 2020. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  11. ^ "Moscow hosts Armenia-Azerbaijan talks as fighting continues over Nagorno-Karabakh". BBC. 15 October 2020. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
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  13. ^ "Armenia, Azerbaijan accuse each other of violating ceasefire". Al Jazeera. 10 October 2020. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  14. ^ "Shaky ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh after Moscow deal". CNBC. 10 October 2020. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  15. ^ Sultanova, Aida (11 October 2020). "Azerbaijan, Armenia report shelling of cities despite truce". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 23 October 2020. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  16. ^ "The Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, Two Weeks In". War on the Rocks. 14 October 2020. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
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  18. ^ "Bərdə ərazisi "Toçka-U" kompleksindən atəşə tutulub" (in Azerbaijani). Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan. 8 October 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  19. ^ "U.S. says humanitarian ceasefire to take effect on Monday in Nagorno-Karabakh". Reuters. 25 October 2020. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  20. ^ "Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: US-brokered ceasefire frays soon after starting". BBC News. 26 October 2020. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  21. ^ a b "Armenia: Cluster Munitions Used in Multiple Attacks on Azerbaijan". Human Rights Watch. 15 December 2020. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  22. ^ "Armenian Cluster Missile Kills 4 Azerbaijani Civilians, Injuring 13 In Barda City". Caspian News. 27 October 2020. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  23. ^ "General Prosecutor's Office: Death toll from Armenia's missile attack on Azerbaijan's Barda rises to 21, about 70 people wounded - UPDATED - 2". Azeri Press Agency. 28 October 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  24. ^ Bagirova, Nailia; Hovhannisyan, Nvard (28 October 2020). "Civilians killed as Nagorno-Karabakh conflict deepens". Reuters. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  25. ^ "Civilians Reported Killed As Conflict Between Armenia, Azerbaijan Spills Into Urban Areas". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 28 October 2020. Archived from the original on 29 October 2020. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
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  27. ^ "Baku accuses Armenia of shelling Barda using Smerch missiles". NEWS.ru. 28 October 2020. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
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  29. ^ "Azerbaijan says 14 people killed by Armenian shelling in Barda". Al Arabiya. 28 October 2020. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  30. ^ "Azerbaijan says 14 people killed by shelling in Barda: RIA". Reuters. 28 October 2020. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  31. ^ "Пресс-секретарь лидера НКР призывает мирных азербайджанцев бежать от военных объектов". BBC Russian Service (in Russian). 28 October 2020. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  32. ^ Gall, Carlotta (28 October 2020). "In Azerbaijan, a String of Explosions, Screams and Then Blood" – via NYTimes.com.
  33. ^ "Azerbaijani Armed Forces take revenge for Barda (VIDEO)". Trend News Agency. 28 October 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  34. ^ "Azerbaijani army avenges for Barda, heavy damage inflicted on Armenian troops (VIDEO)". Trend News Agency. 28 October 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  35. ^ "Armenian troops firing at Azerbaijani civilian population destroyed with precise fire (VIDEO)". Trend News Agency. 28 October 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  36. ^ "Manpower of Armenian Armed Forces destroyed (VIDEO)". Trend News Agency. 28 October 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  37. ^ "Azerbaijan provides footage of Armenian troops, military equipment being destroyed (VIDEO)". Trend News Agency. 28 October 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  38. ^ "Azerbaijan destroys Smerch missile launcher of Armenian troops used to shell Barda - MoD (VIDEO)". Trend News Agency. 30 October 2020. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  39. ^ "Bərdə və Tərtər şəhərlərini atəşə tutan düşmənə məxsus daha 2 "Smerç" bu gün məhv edilib - VİDEO" (in Azerbaijani). Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan. 30 October 2020. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  40. ^ "Cluster bomb attacks are new act of genocide against Azerbaijani people - President's aide". Trend News Agency. 28 October 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  41. ^ "Armenia continues to commit war crimes, terrorist acts - Azerbaijani ombudsman". Trend News Agency. 28 October 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  42. ^ Demourian, Avet (29 October 2020). "Hospital, residential areas hit in Nagorno-Karabakh fighting". Associated Press. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  43. ^ "First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva: Such barbaric attacks show that atrocities of Armenians have no limits (PHOTO)". Trend News Agency. 28 October 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  44. ^ "First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva expresses condolences to relatives of those killed as result of Armenia's missile attack on Barda (PHOTO)". Trend News Agency. 28 October 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
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  46. ^ "No: 261, 28 October 2020, Press Release Regarding Armenia's Anew Attack Today on Barda City of Azerbaijan". Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Turkey). 28 October 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  47. ^ "Pakistani ambassador condemns Armenia's attack against civilians in Azerbaijan's Barda". Trend News Agency. 28 October 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  48. ^ "Iranian embassy in Baku condemns attack on Barda". Mehr News Agency. 28 October 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
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  50. ^ "Shelling of Barda - gross violation of int'l humanitarian law, says Ambassador of Kazakhstan". Trend News Agency. 28 October 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  51. ^ "نماینده ولی فقیه در استان در پی شهادت جمعی از اهالی شهر بردع قره باغ پیام تسلیت صادر کرد" (in Persian). Shabestan News Agency. 29 October 2020. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  52. ^ "Press Release of the Turkic Council on Armenia's attack on Barda city of Azerbaijan". Turkic Council. 29 October 2020. Retrieved 29 October 2020.