During a meeting with the media and officials, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev insisted that they are not targeting civilians.
The Fact Investigation Platform hereby presents Aliyev’s false statements during the meeting and the interview.
“We have never taken, and we will not take any steps against the civilian population. “Despite the fact that they are shelling our ancient historical city of Ganja, we have not fired on the cities of either Armenia or Nagorno Karabakh,” Aliyev said.
But the facts point to a different picture. The attack of the Azerbaijani side started in the early morning of September 27 with the bombing of the Artsakh capital Stepanakert. The shelling of Stepanakert and other cities of Artsakh, such as Martuni, Martakert, Shushi, etc., continues to this day. During this period, the Fact Investigation Platform visited a number of cities in Artsakh and gathered evidence that the Azerbaijani side has been shelling the civilian settlements of Artsakh.
For example, in this photo one can clearly see how one of the residential buildings in Stepanakert was bombed. Fortunately, the shell that fell on the balcony did not explode.
As can be seen in the photo, the shelled building is a residential building, not a military facility.
In this photo, one of the department stores in Stepanakert came under shelling, as a result of which a fire broke out.
The photo shows the same department store the very next morning, completely burned out.
The shelling by Azerbaijan was recorded by the camera of a car parked in one of the residential districts of Stepanakert.
Fip.am journalists visited the site of this shelling, which, as seen in the photos taken by the “car camera” and our group, is located in a residential part of the city, near the main post office of Artsakh.
This video clearly shows the deep hole caused by a shell that exploded in one of the streets of Stepanakert. In this case too, it is clear that the target of the Azerbaijani shelling was the civilian population.
The Fact Investigation Platform also visited the shelled city of Hadrut, found and photographed evidence of the use of cluster munitions by Azerbaijan, and demonstrated that Azerbaijan uses banned weapons against the civilian population.
By the way, Stepanakert and Hadrut are not the only settlements targeted by Azerbaijan. All the cities and large villages of Artsakh are targeted by the Azerbaijani artillery.
For example, the city of Martuni was shelled, where 4 civilians were killed and 4 were wounded. Some of the journalists working there were injured. One of them was the correspondent of the French newspaper Le Monde, whose life was eventually saved.
And although Azerbaijan has officially stated that it targets only military facilities, the reality is different. According to the report of the Artsakh Human Rights Defender’s Office, 36 civilians have already been killed and 115 wounded as a result of civilians being targeted by Azerbaijan. Moreover, 20 out of 36 civilian victims were killed at their place of residence.
About Armenian settlements
According to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan has not fired on settlements in the territory of the Republic of Armenia. But even in this case, the facts point to a different picture. On September 29, a civilian bus was targeted by the Azerbaijani armed forces in the Vardenis region of Gegharkunik Province, which completely burned down.
On October 1, an Azeri drone targeted the house of a resident of the Mets Masrik community, which was completely razed to the ground. One person was killed and two were injured.
Children have also been targeted by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces. A 14-year-old resident of Vardenis was seriously injured as a result of the attacks of the Azerbaijani UAV on October 14. The UAV strikes also targeted agricultural land, where there were civilians, including children, gathering the seasonal potato harvest.
Thus, we can state that Aliyev’s assertion that the Azerbaijani armed forces did not target the civilian settlements of Armenia and Artsakh is a lie.
During the meeting with the Turkish ombudsman, Aliyev complained that “the Armenians have desecrated their mosques”.
Contrary to Aliyev’s assertion, there are three standing mosques in Shushi alone: Saatli, Upper Mosque and Lower Mosque. Since 2008, the authorities in Artsakh have spent AMD 30 million on the preservation of Muslim monuments in Artsakh. In Shushi alone, two mosques and a madrasa (religious school) have been restored. In 2019, the Upper Mosque was completely restored.
As for the Aghdam mosque, it is the best preserved building in the city of Aghdam (Akna), which was completely destroyed during the first Artsakh war. This is evidenced by the satellite photos of the city and the photos of the mosque. The Aghdam mosque was cleaned in 2010 and partially restored.
As for Fizuli, the President of Azerbaijan states that the Armenians kept pigs in the Fizuli mosque. However, immediately before making this statement, the President of Azerbaijan himself had stated that there was no standing building in Fizuli. Thus, it is not possible to keep pigs in the rubble.
Contrary to Aliyev’s assertion, we should remind that on October 8, the Azerbaijani armed forces twice fired rockets at the Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shushi.
This is yet another proof that Azerbaijan targets cultural, religious monuments and civilian infrastructure.
About Armenians living in Azerbaijan
In an interview with the Japanese Nikkei, Aliyev stated that today thousands of ethnic Armenians live in Baku and other Azerbaijani cities.
The Fact Investigation Platform has already referred to this assertion and proved that this provision of the Azerbaijani propaganda is false. Thus, according to the 2009 census in Azerbaijan, 120,306 Armenians live in that country, which also includes the population of the Republic of Artsakh. According to the same census, 120,089 Armenians live in the territory controlled by the Republic of Artsakh. That is, according to the official data of Azerbaijan, only 217 Armenians live in Azerbaijan, and about half of them (104) in the capital Baku.
Aliyev also states that at the beginning of the 20th century, 70% of the population of Yerevan were Azeris.
According to the Russian Imperial Census conducted in 1897, the population of Yerevan was 29,006, of which 12,523 were Armenians, 12,359 were Tatars (Azeris) and 4,124 were representatives of other nations, mainly Russians. In other words, Azeris, who were known as “Tatars” at that time, made up 42.6% of the population of Yerevan. As of 1916, the ratio of the Azeri population decreased even more, making about 25%.
Aliyev claims that according to their information, at present “the real population of the occupied territories of Nagorno Karabakh is about 65 thousand people.”
According to the census conducted in Artsakh in 2015, 140,535 people live there. According to more recent data, as of 2018, the permanent population of the Republic of Artsakh was 148,000. The report of the International Crisis Group published in 2018 also puts the number of the population of Artsakh at 150,000.
President of Azerbaijan says they did not hit Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia with ballistic missiles
However, on October 2, Artsrun Hovhannisyan, a representative of the RA Ministry of Defense, informed that Azerbaijan was targeting civilian targets with ballistic missiles. “Probably also with LORA missiles,” he said.
The claim that Azerbaijan used Israeli LORA missiles is confirmed by Israeli sources as well, including the Jerusalem Post. That LORA is a ballistic missile system is confirmed by Jane’s prestigious military expert organization, as well as Israel Aerospace Industries, the manufacturer of this missile.