Caucasus Reality 21 august — 14:29

Armenian experts: 'Azerbaijani army strengthened at Babakar height'

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BY FARHAD MAMMADOV, INFORMATION SECTION

Military experts continue the debate about how the front line has changed after the occupation of new positions on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border in the Gazakh district by the State Border Service of Azerbaijan.

As reports Azeri Daily, this discussion is carried out by experts not only from Azerbaijan and Armenia, but also from Russia, the main stakeholder in the conflict.

Official sources did not disclose details of what is happening on this section of the front line. However, Azerbaijani military experts, referring to their sources, say that the positions of the State Border Service were strengthened on Mount Babakar at four heights. As a result, residents of the village of Second Shikhli, located near the contact line in the Gazakh district, now have the opportunity to live in safer conditions.

We are not talking about promotion to the territory of Armenia. As in Nakhchivan, here Azerbaijani troops are moving in the neutral zone within the borders of the country's sovereign territories. However, new positions allow to control the positions of Armenian units in this section, access roads to these positions, and even the territory through which the Georgia-Armenia gas pipeline passes.

In Armenia, the Ministry of Defence and its close circles do not deny that the Azerbaijani border guards have advanced in the neutral zone. But they add that the Armenian troops also 'improved their positions.' Speaker of the Armenian parliament Ararat Mirzoyan on his Facebook page stated pathetically that 'thanks to the actions of the Armenian military, the safety of the village of Chinari in the Tavush region was ensured.'

'Chinari can no longer be fired upon. The gas pipeline leading to Armenia is also safe,' he wrote.

One of the Armenian military experts called the words of Mirzoyan, who had not served in the army a day, empty chatter and 'balloon inflating.' He said that the dominant heights above the village of Chinari are still controlled by Azerbaijani troops.

Commenting on the events taking place in this direction, the Armenian military observer Leonid Nersisyan told the Caucasian Knot portal that the Armenian military had taken up new firing positions near the Chinari village. These positions will enable Armenian forces to respond to the fire of the Azerbaijani side. Although the dominant heights over this village are controlled by Azerbaijani troops.

According to Nersisyan, over the past years, the movement of advanced posts and the construction of new defensive infrastructure by both sides was not uncommon.

'There are sections of the border where the parties have come close to each other at fantastically short distances, for example, 30-40 metres,' the Armenian expert said.

Another Armenian expert, head of the Orbeli Analytical Research Centre Taron Hovhannisyan confirmed that the Azerbaijani troops managed to advance and gain a foothold in the direction of the Tavush region of Armenia in the area of Mount Babakar.

He noted that prior to the movement of positions since last year, the distance between the Armenian and Azerbaijani positions was up to 3.5 kilometres. As a result, according to the expert, this distance was reduced to 600 metres.

'Azerbaijan managed to advance its positions 500-600 metres closer to the border, while the Armenian units advanced their positions more than one kilometre forward, gaining a foothold directly on the border,' said Taron Hovhannisyan.

Certain changes have also occurred in the area near the village of Chinari, Tavush region, the expert added. 'In this direction, on a hill near the Khoranashat temple, two firing points appeared, which strengthened the Armenian position. Azerbaijani firing points remained at their former positions, and the threat to the village remains. However, thanks to these new firing points, the Armenian side is able to minimise risks by suppressing firing with return fire,' the expert said.

Major-General of the Russian Army, former State Duma deputy Ibragim Suleimenov (Chechen by ethnicity, fought on the side of Jokhar Dudayev against the Russian troops in the early 1990s, then switched to the side of Russia and received the rank of a general. He was a military commandant of Chechnya - Ed) criticised the actions of the Azerbaijani side and supported the Armenians.

He, commenting on what is happening on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border, said that Azerbaijan 'instead of establishing relations with its neighbours,' exacerbates the situation. According to him, the actions of Azerbaijani border guards in the neutral zone can also lead to conflict.

Ibragim Suleimenov

The neutral strip in the conflict zone is introduced specifically to divide the warring parties, and no one has the right to change it unilaterally, said the current officer of the Russian security forces, who asked to give only his name - Arsen (an Armenian name - Ed).

'The neutral zone is also called the dividing, gray one. All this is negotiated by the conflicting parties, it is determined at what distance one side from the other should be. And no one has the right to change it according to their understanding,' Arsen told the Caucasian Knot correspondent.

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