Pashinyan raises death toll to 105, as Azerbaijan continues attacks along much of border

The forests of the southeastern part of Armenia are on fire after the attacks of Azerbaijani forces

By Mark Dovich

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan raised the number of Armenian soldiers killed in action since Azerbaijan launched attacks on Armenia just after midnight Tuesday (late Monday evening) to 105 in an address to parliament Wednesday afternoon.

On Tuesday, Pashinyan said 49 Armenian soldiers had been killed in the ensuing clashes, while Azerbaijan continues to put its combat losses at 42 soldiers and eight border guards.

The death toll means this week has been the bloodiest in the region since the outbreak of the war in and around Karabakh nearly two years ago.

Earlier Wednesday afternoon, Azerbaijan announced it was ready to “unilaterally hand over the bodies of up to 100” Armenian soldiers killed since Tuesday, when it launched attacks on the eastern and southern parts of Armenia proper, marking an unprecedented escalation in hostilities.

At the same time, Azerbaijan continued shelling across a large portion of the border Wednesday afternoon, Armenia’s Defense Ministry said, noting that the situation along the border had “significantly intensified” as of 3 p.m. local time.

“Starting at 1 p.m., the adversary started intensive rocket and artillery strikes along the entire border from Sotk to Goris, targeting civilian communities as well. The adversary also widely uses attack drones,” Aram Torosyan, a spokesperson for Armenia’s Defense Ministry, said in a press briefing Wednesday afternoon.

“Armenia’s armed forces are taking all necessary measures to adequately respond to the enemy,” he stressed.

In his briefing Wednesday, Torosyan also confirmed reports swirling in the local press that Azerbaijani shelling had struck a Russian border guard base in Armenia’s eastern Gegharkunik region, damaging the facility and some military equipment stored there.

“Vehicles of the Russian Federal Security Service carrying out a humanitarian mission in the combat zone were also hit,” he said. “This is another piece of evidence that, despite official Baku’s statements, Azerbaijan’s armed forces do not distinguish among their targets.”

Russia has yet to confirm or deny that its base in Gegharkunik was damaged and has refused to comment publicly on the matter.

Meanwhile, Kristinne Grigoryan, Armenia’s Human Rights Defender, said Wednesday at least 2,570 people have been displaced from their homes in towns and villages across Armenia’s Gegharkunik and Syunik regions since the clashes began.

“The vast majority of those displaced are women, children, and the elderly, including people with disabilities,” she said.

Earlier in the day, Alen Simonyan, Armenia’s parliament speaker, confirmed that Armenian civilians had been killed in the attacks, but he did not provide any numbers. Grigoryan has reported four civilians injured.

“We have suffered significant losses of military equipment,” Simonyan added.

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