About 1,000 members of Syrian militant groups deployed by Turkey to support the Azerbaijani advance in the Nagorno-Karabakh region have laid down their arms and refused to participate in hostilities, Armenian media outlets and military-affiliated sources claimed. They insist that Syrian militants were just used as cannon fodder and did not receive their promised money. According to sources loyal to the Syrian opposition, the number of Turkish proxies that died in the war with Armenia has exceeded 110.
Earlier, reports appeared from Syrian sources, claiming that about 400 members of Turkish-backed militant groups deployed in Syria’s northwest had refused to go to Azerbaijan. At least 16 of them were arrested by the so-called Hamza Division for complaining too much and for leaking information to the public.
Meanwhile, the Armenian Defense Ministry released an updated claim on alleged Azerbaijani casualties since the start of the war on September 27. According to this, Azerbaijani forces have lost 5,489 personnel, 541 armoured vehicles, 4 TOS multiple rocket launchers, 19 military planes, 16 helicopters and 176 UAVs. During the last few days, the Armenian military specified, Azerbaijan has lost 3 UAVs, 20 armored vehicles, a plane and has suffered 350 casualties.
Nonetheless, the aforementioned claims did not allow the Armenian military to regain the initiative from the advancing Azerbaijani forces and even the country’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, in his recent national address, admitted that the situation on the frontline is complicated and that the Armenians had retreated from positions in the south and north.
“For 18 days of the war, our heroic troops retreated to the south and north,” Pashinyan said. According to him, Azerbaijani troops also changed their tactics “trying to create confusion in the rear with sabotage groups.” Pashinyan also claimed that “A number of countries with the possibility of strategic deterrence did not properly assess the danger, continuing to consider the issue in the context of the Karabakh conflict and believing that territories in exchange for peace is a solution that can save the situation.”
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that in 2018, Azerbaijan had in the course of negotiations demanded that Armenia give up the seven regions of Nagorno-Karabakh in exchange for peace. According to him, Baku refused to consider the issue of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh as not being part of Azerbaijan.
“In the negotiation process, Azerbaijan has reached the point when it has put a demand for the Armenian people to give up their rights, return five of the seven regions, present specific deadlines for the surrender of the remaining two regions, any status of Nagorno-Karabakh must be determined within Azerbaijan. In addition, the clarification of the status should not have been linked to the process of handing over the territories. The territories were to be surrendered in exchange for peace,” Pashinyan said.
In their turn, the Azerbaijani side remains determined that all of the contested region should be immediately returned to its control and the Armenian Republic of Arstakh there dismantled de-facto employing a military option to achieve this goal.
As of October 15, the Azerbaijani military continued delivering intense artillery and air strikes on Armenian positions across the entire contact line and advancing in the areas of Hadrat and Fuzuli. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev announced that his forces had captured the villages of Garadaghli, Khatunbulag, Garakollu in the Fuzuli district, and Bulutan, Melikjanli, Kemertuk, Teke and Tagaser in the Khojavend district.
Azerbaijani forces have also been trying to fully isolate the town of Hadrut in order to finally turn into reality their earlier claim that it’s under their full control. They also tried to advance on the town of Fuzuli and even reached it, but the attack was repelled by the Armenians. On the other hand, Baku regularly accuses Armenia of ceasefire violations and claims that all its actions are just a response to Armenian aggression.
The humanitarian ceasefire reached by the sides earlier in October helped to stop offensive operations only on distinct parts of the frontline and the war is raging at almost full force in the northern part of Karabakh.