Nagorno-Karabakh War - Summer 1993 - Kelbajar

Kelbajar

Situated west of northern Karabakh, out of the boundaries of the region, was the rayon of Kelbajar, which bordered alongside Armenia. With a population of about 60,000, the several dozen villages were made up of Azeris and Kurds. In March 1993, the Armenian-held areas near the Sarsang reservoir in Mardakert were reported to have been coming under attack by the Azeris. After successfully defending the Martuni region, Melkonian's fighters were tasked to move to capture the region of Kelbajar, where the incursions and purported artillery shelling were said to have been coming from.

Scant military opposition by the Azeris allowed Melkonian's fighters to quickly gain a foothold in the region and also captured several abandoned armored vehicles and tanks. At 2:45 pm, on 2 April, Armenian forces from two directions advanced towards Kelbajar in an attack that quickly struck against Azeri armor and troops entrenched near the Ganje-Kelbjar intersection. Azeri forces were unable to halt advances made by Armenian armor units and nearly all died defending the area. The second attack towards Kelbajar also quickly overran the defenders. By 3 April, Armenian forces had captured Kelbajar. President Elchibey imposed a state of emergency for a period of two months and introduced universal conscription.

The offensive provoked international rancor against the Armenian government, marking the first time Armenian forces had crossed the boundaries of the enclave itself and into Azerbaijan's territory. On 30 April, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed Resolution 822, co-sponsored by Turkey and Pakistan, affirming Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and demanding that Armenian forces withdraw from Kelbajar. Human Rights Watch findings concluded that during the Kelbajar offensive Armenian forces committed numerous violations of the rules of war, including forcible exodus of civilian population, indiscriminate fire and taking hostages.

The political repercussions were also felt in Azerbaijan when Huseynov embarked on his "march to Baku" from Ganje. Frustrated with what he felt was Elchibey's incompetence in dealing with the conflict and demoted from his rank of colonel, his brigade advanced towards Baku to unseat the President in early June. Elchibey stepped down from office on 18 June and power was assumed by then parliamentary member Heydar Aliyev. On 1 July, Huseynov was appointed prime minister of Azerbaijan. As acting president, Aliyev disbanded 33 voluntary battalions of the Popular Front, which he deemed politically unreliable. Aliyev became the President of Azerbaijan on 10 October 1993.

Read more about this topic:  Nagorno-Karabakh War, Summer 1993

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