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No Letup In Karabakh Fighting


Nagorno-Karabakh -- Armenian servicemen of the self-defense army of Nagorno-Karabakh fire an artillery shell towards Azeri forces from their positions in the town of Martakert , April 3, 2016

Nagorno-Karabakh -- Armenian servicemen of the self-defense army of Nagorno-Karabakh fire an artillery shell towards Azeri forces from their positions in the town of Martakert , April 3, 2016

The Azerbaijani military reported three more combat deaths within its ranks on Monday morning as it continued to face what appeared be an intensifying Armenian counteroffensive in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenia’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday night that Karabakh’s Armenian-backed army made “serious advances” and “liberated more positions” at some sections of “the line of contact” around Karabakh. A spokesman for the Karabakh army told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that its forces regained more territory in northeastern Karabakh which was seized by the Azerbaijani army at the start of its large-scale offensive on Saturday.

Men carry the coffin of an Azerbaijan's serviceman, who was killed on April 2 during clashes between Armenian and Azeri forces in Nagorny Karabakh, during his funeral in Terter on April 3, 2016.

Men carry the coffin of an Azerbaijan's serviceman, who was killed on April 2 during clashes between Armenian and Azeri forces in Nagorny Karabakh, during his funeral in Terter on April 3, 2016.

In a statement released on Monday morning, the Karabakh Defense Army said it has “taken the initiative” in the “fierce fighting” going on in the northeast and at another section of frontline bordering Iran. It claimed to have destroyed 5 more Azerbaijani tanks and inflicted other “considerable losses” on the enemy.

The spokesman for the Defense Ministry in Yerevan, Artsrun Hovannisian, said at around the same time that Armenian artillery fire destroyed “entire reserve units of the Azerbaijani army that tried to reach the frontline.”

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said, meanwhile, that three more Azerbaijani soldiers died in action at the two frontline sections. It said that “the Armenian side is continuing to escalate the situation” and is “attacking our positions in order to regain its lost positions.”

“We have not surrendered a single position,” the ministry spokesman, Vagif Dargyakhli, told the APA news agency.

The information raised to 15 the official Azerbaijani combat death toll since the start of hostilities on Saturday. Razm.info, an Armenian defense news website closely monitoring Azerbaijani social media, has published names and photographs of 20 Azerbaijani soldiers which it says were killed by the Armenians over the weekend. It has suggested that the real number of Azerbaijani casualties is much higher.

The Armenian military released on Sunday what it described as aerial footage of the bodies of 21 Azerbaijani soldiers strewn over a field in northeastern Karabakh.

The military has acknowledged 18 Armenian combat deaths so far. Virtually all of them are thought to have occurred during the first Azerbaijani army attacks in Karabakh. Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev described the Azerbaijani offensive as “great military victory.”

The Karabakh Armenian army has responded to the offensive by reinforcing its frontline positions and launching counterattacks. It called up hundreds and possibly thousands of reservists at the weekend, in what the Karabakh prime minister, Ara Harutiunian, termed a “partial mobilization.”

Armenia -- Armenian volunteers receive uniforms and weapons at a military commissariat to join the self-defense army of Nagorno-Karabakh in Yerevan, April 2, 2016

Armenia -- Armenian volunteers receive uniforms and weapons at a military commissariat to join the self-defense army of Nagorno-Karabakh in Yerevan, April 2, 2016

Armenia has declared no mobilization yet. Still, thousands of its residents, many of them veterans of the 1991-1994 war with Azerbaijan, have volunteered to fight in Karabakh. The Armenian Defense Ministry has swiftly provided many of them with weapons, ammunition and uniforms.

From Armenia’s southeastern Syunik province alone, some 250 volunteers arrived in Stepanakert on Sunday night. Suren Khachatrian, the provincial governor, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that more Syunik residents are willing to follow suit.

The conflicting parties also continued to accuse each other of shelling villages and towns close to “the line of contact.” An RFE/RL correspondent and a cameraman witnessed such shelling when they visited the northeastern Karabakh town of Martakert on Sunday.

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