Presence Of Turkish-backed Syrian Militants In Nagorno-Karabakh Gives Armenia Additional Chances In War

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The Azerbaijani Armed Forces and their allies continue to storm Armenian positions in the mountainous terrain near Shusha and the Lachin corridor in Nagorno-Karabakh. After making rapid advances, the Azerbaijani forces now appear to be stuck in a kind of positional fighting. The intensity of the clashes has not lessened and both sides still regularly suffer notable casualties. Meanwhile, Azerbaijani forces are still deployed just south of Shushi and pose a serious threat to the defenders of the town. Some sources say that they are now even regularly shelling the road linking the Lachin corridor to the town. If the reports about the Azerbaijani side having fire control over the road turn out to be true, the situation in Shusha for the Armenian forces will become more and more difficult as the fighting continues.

Armenia, from its side, insists that its forces have been successfully repelling all Azerbaijani attacks. For example, on November 3, the Armenians reportedly repelled an Azerbaijani attack in the Karvachar area killing at least 6 troops, destroying 2 battle tanks and capturing an infantry fighting vehicle. An alleged ‘special forces unit’ of Azerbaijan was also ambushed by Armenian forces near Tagavard. As of November 4, the Armenian military says that its forces have surrounded – and are working to eliminate – another group of Azerbaijani troops south of Shusha.

Meanwhile, the number of Azerbaijani casualties claimed by Armenia since the start of the war has reached 7,095. 251 UAVs, 16 helicopters, 25 planes, 685 armoured vehicles and 6 rocket launchers have allegedly also been destroyed.

Azerbaijan reports regular successes on the battlefield while pro-Azerbaijani sources vow to capture Shusha and the Lachin corridor in the coming days (which is unlikely due to the heavy fortifications in the area). Armenian saboteur groups also appear in statements by the Azerbaijani military as a permanent factor impacting the situation behind the frontlines. Azerbaijan still has a lot of work to do if it wants to secure the recently captured areas.

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry officially confirms operations in the Tartar, Aghdam, Khojavend, Zangilan and Gubadli areas. According to them, on November 3 and November 4, a large number of Armenian forces, two T-72 tanks, three D-30 howitzer-guns, a “Zastava M-55” anti-aircraft gun, a tactical UAV, and 3 military trucks were destroyed.

In an interview with the La Repubblica newspaper, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that he is ready to stop the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. This statement was covered by Armenian sources as a kind of sign of an imminent Armenian victory due to the fact that Azerbaijani forces are exhausted by heavy clashes and casualties and that winter is coming. In fact, Aliyev repeated that Armenia must agree on the withdrawal of troops from the contested region for peace to be achieved and said that the only possible compromise with Yerevan is Armenian withdrawal from Azerbaijani territory.

In general, the Turkish-Azerbaijani bloc still keeps the initiative but the Armenians used their chance to stabilize the situation and if Baku does not achieve a breakthrough in the coming month, the deteriorating weather conditions together with increasing losses will slow down the Azerbaijani advance even further. The issue of the presence of Turkish-backed Syrian militants fighting on the side of Azerbaijan also does not play into the hands of Azerbaijan and Turkey.

In an interview with Kommersant, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the number of Turkish-backed militants in the area had reached 2,000.

“We are, of course, concerned about the internationalization of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the involvement of militants from the Middle East. We have repeatedly called on external players to use their capabilities to stop the transfer of mercenaries, whose number in the conflict zone, according to available data, is already approaching two thousand,” he said.

The Armenian leadership seems to understand this and recently increased its media and diplomatic activity using the ‘anti-terrorist narrative’. If Yerevan is able to convince the international audience that the actions of the Turkish-Azerbaijani bloc in Nagorno-Karabakh increase the terrorist threat not only in the South Caucasus but also in Europe, it will become much easier for Armenia to receive additional support in the ongoing standoff.

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