Azerbaijan: Unlawful Strikes in Nagorno-Karabakh

Investigate Alleged Indiscriminate Attacks, Use of Explosive Weapons
Human Rights Watch, December 11, 2020
Impact crater in a residential neighborhood in Stepanakert

Impact crater in a residential neighborhood in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh on Sasountsi David Street from an attack by Azerbaijan aircraft on October 4, 2020. © 2020 Human Rights Watch

Azerbaijani forces carried out apparently indiscriminate attacks in Stepanakert in violation of the laws of war during the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, Human Rights Watch said today.

A Human Rights Watch on-site investigation in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh’s largest city, found numerous incidents in which Azerbaijan’s forces used inherently indiscriminate cluster munitions and artillery rockets or other weapons that did not distinguish between military targets and civilian objects. Evidence relating to an attack on October 4, 2020, indicates that multiple strikes hit residential homes in less than a minute suggesting possible bombardment – treating the whole area as a military target – which is prohibited under the laws of war. Azerbaijani forces also attacked infrastructure that may have an unlawfully disproportionate impact on the civilian population. The use by Armenian and local Nargono-Karabakh forces of military bases and dual-use infrastructure in Stepanakert placed the civilian population unnecessarily at risk.

“Azerbaijani forces carried out apparently indiscriminate air and ground strikes hitting civilian structures in Nagorno-Karabakh’s largest city that should be impartially investigated,” said Lama Fakih, crisis and conflict director at Human Rights Watch. “While the hostilities may have stopped, the civilian population continues to suffer from possibly disproportionate attacks on critical infrastructure.”

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