OHCHR alarmed at indiscriminate attacks in populated areas around Karabakh conflict zone
BAKU, Azerbaijan, Nov. 2
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet expressed alarm at continuing indiscriminate attacks in populated areas around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, in contravention of international humanitarian law, and warned they may amount to war crimes, Trend reports citing the OHCHR.
"Since the conflict reignited in September, there have been repeated calls, including by myself, to take all feasible steps to avoid, or at the very least minimize, the loss of civilian life and damage to civilian infrastructure, as well as to distinguish civilians from combatants, and civilian objects from military objectives," Bachelet said.
Despite an agreement reached by Armenia and Azerbaijan to refrain from deliberately targeting civilian populations, artillery strikes against populated areas were reported over the weekend. Azerbaijani sources said the city of Tartar, which is some 20km from the frontline, had been hit by artillery strikes.
According to the Azerbaijani government, since late September, at least 91 civilians have been killed in areas under its control.
The biggest single loss of life was on 28 October, when 21 people were reported killed and 70 others injured in a rocket attack on the Azerbaijani town of Barda, located some 30km from the area of active hostilities. The rockets, allegedly fired by Armenian forces from Nagorno-Karabakh, reportedly carried cluster munitions. Due to their effects, the use of cluster munitions in populated areas would be incompatible with the international humanitarian law principles governing the conduct of hostilities.
"Amid deeply troubling reports that cluster munitions have been used, I call once again to stop using them, and to join the more than 100 States that have ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions which comprehensively bans their use," the High Commissioner said.
Armenian Armed Forces launched a large-scale military attack on positions of Azerbaijani army on the front line, using large-caliber weapons, mortars and artillery on Sept. 27. Azerbaijan responded with a counter-offensive along the entire front. Currently, Azerbaijan continues the liberation of its territories from Armenian troops.
Back in July 2020, Armenian Armed Forces violated the ceasefire in the direction of Azerbaijan's Tovuz district. As a result of Azerbaijan's retaliation, the opposing forces were silenced. The fighting continued the following days as well. Azerbaijan lost a number of military personnel members, who died fighting off the attacks of the Armenian Armed Forces.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, Armenian Armed Forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on the withdrawal of its armed forces from Nagorno Karabakh and the surrounding districts.