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Armenian ex-president confirms Iskander missile launch to Shusha

18 February 2021 11:23 (UTC+04:00)
Armenian ex-president confirms Iskander missile launch to Shusha

By Vafa Ismayilova

Former Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan has admitted that his country used the Iskander missile during the 44-day war with Azerbaijan in 2020.

He made the remarks in an interview with Armnews TV channel, expressing his disagreement with the statements that the Iskander was not used by Armenia.

"I disagree with the statements that Iskander was not used by Armenia. I have reliable information that the Iskander was used in the last period of the war, and more specifically in the direction of Shushi [Shusha]," he said.

He added that the missiles were launched to Shusha after the Azerbaijani army liberated the city.

Sargsyan linked the failure to launch the Iskander missile at the Azerbaijani territories during the war with the possibility of retaliatory strikes.

"In the case of strikes, the opposite side could have fought back. This was perhaps due to the fear of retaliation. Iskander should have been used already on the fourth or fifth day of the war when Azerbaijan concentrated a huge amount of manpower and equipment in Horadiz and in other directions," he said.

At the same time, Sargsyan did not agree with the views that Armenia's other weapons were not fired at Azerbaijani territories.

He admitted that missile and artillery strikes had been deliberately launched on the city of Ganja and other settlements located far from the front-line zone of Azerbaijan as the civilians were targeted.

"If you remember, one proud man said that he gave the order to "smash" Kirovabad (Ganja - ed.) airport," he said, recalling that the fire was opened on a residential area in ​​the city, and not on a military facility.

The ex-president called it "a great stupidity" and explained that after that Khankendi and Khojavend were fired at.

"I am not saying that Stepanakert (Khankendi - ed.) had not come under fire before. But the fire was directed at two targets: the headquarters of the Defence Army and the power plant," he said.

He reiterated that Iskander should have been used. Sargsyan noted that, first of all, it was necessary to fire at Azerbaijan's oil and gas pipeline.

“Why did we acquire Iskander? Why did they bring it? So that we wouldn't use it at the right time?” he asked.

At the same time, the ex-president noted that there was hardly an agreement not to use this type of weapon. "We are the only ones to whom our ally provided such weapons. And not to use them? ... I cannot understand," Sargsyan said.

It should be noted that Iskander ballistic missile system is on the military list of products prohibited for export. Iskander missile complexes cannot be exported. In 2016, Armenia, a Russian ally and a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) became the first foreign country to operate the system.

During the war, losing on the battlefield, Armenia resorted to vicious attacks against Azerbaijani civilians, killing 100 Azerbaijani civilians, including 12 children, and wounding over 400 by targeted missile attacks on major Azerbaijani cities outside of the war zone, using even widely banned cluster munitions. International human rights watchdogs Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch also verified the use of banned cluster bombs and rockets by Armenia in its attacks against Azerbaijani cities.

On November 10, Baku and Yerevan signed a Moscow-brokered deal that brought an end to six weeks of fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani army declared a victory against the Armenian troops. The signed agreement obliged Armenia to withdraw its troops from the Azerbaijani lands that it has occupied since the early 1990s.

On January 11, the Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian leaders signed the second statement since the end of the 44-day war. The newly-signed statement is set to implement clause 9 of the November 2020 statement related to the unblocking of all economic and transport communications in the region.

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