BAKU: Armenian troops said on alert along Azeri contact line

Armenian troops said on alert along Azeri contact line

Ayna, Baku
29 Jul 05

An anonymous source at the Azerbaijani-Armenian front line has said
that Armenian troops are being put on alert in Azerbaijan’s occupied
districts of Agdam and Fuzuli. In an interview with Ayna newspaper,
the source said that over 1,000 troops and military hardware were sent
to the areas in question from other military units in Armenia. Another
source in the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry told the paper that the
troops were just being rotated and that the Azerbaijani troops were
ready to retaliate should a war break out. Ayna quoted unidentified
military experts as saying that tension on the front line might be
connected with certain misunderstanding in the talks. The following is
an excerpt from the report by Azerbaijani newspaper Ayna on 29 July
headlined “The army was put on alert”

Armenia has been increasing the number of servicemen in its army units
stationed in Azerbaijan’s occupied Agdam and Fuzuli districts. Over
1,000 well-trained servicemen were brought from Armenia’s other
military units to these areas over the past week. Ayna obtained this
exclusive information from a source at the [Azerbaijani-Armenian]
front line. The source said that the Armenian army was trying to
reinforce its positions in the occupied areas of Fuzuli and Agdam
districts. In addition, military hardware and firearms are also being
delivered there.

Armenian forces build up on front line

The source noted some changes in the line-up of the enemy
positions. The Distances between Armenian divisions and platoons on
the contact line looked reduced. The distance between Armenian
divisions were was normally 250-300 metres and it has now been reduced
to 150 metres. This was thanks to additional troops brought in from
Armenia. The source said that 24 platoons (8 companies) had been
brought to the front line in Agdam over the past six days. These
platoons consist of 25-27 men each, making a total of 600-650. The
line-up of troops changed in Fuzuli District as well, and additional
forces are expected to be dispatched to the area.

“Over 500 Armenian soldiers (about 20 platoons) have been taken to
Fuzuli District in personnel carriers,” the source said. He did not
rule out that the actual number might be higher. This information was
mainly obtained through observations, possibly from the opposite side
[as given].

Azerbaijan retaliates

The reinforcement of the enemy positions in two front-line areas
affected the Azerbaijani armed forces’ positions as well. According to
reports we received, the Azerbaijani troops have been put on high
alert. Certain work is being done in our front-line military units in
preparations for the war which might break out at any moment. At the
same time, training is being provided to cut at source any possible
sabotage actions by the enemy.

The Azerbaijani Defence Ministry did not confirm the report that
Azerbaijani armed forces positions have been put on alert. The
ministry said the Azerbaijani servicemen were always on alert, ready
to prevent any sabotage action by the enemy.

The ministry’s representative, who wished to remain anonymous,
believes that the positions of the Armenian and Azerbaijani troops
change periodically.

Troops are rotated on front line

“This is connected with rotation of the troops,” the source said. He
disagreed with the opinion about reinforcement of Armenian positions
on the opposite side of the front line. He said it was impossible to
speak about high combat readiness of Armenian servicemen on the
opposite side.

“The liberation of the lands by our servicemen in a short period of
time after the war breaks out will show that this is not the case,” he
said.

The retired Col Ildirim Mammadov believes that the current situation
on the front line does not satisfy Azerbaijan’s wishes. He thinks it
is important to put constant pressure on the enemy.

“Our army should put pressure on the enemy at certain periods of
time. This will attract the international public’s attention to the
conflict region and Azerbaijan will establish its military dominance
over Armenia,” the expert said. He went on to say that it is always
necessary for Azerbaijan to take advantage of the army factor in order
to facilitate the Baku government to strengthen its position in the
Nagornyy Karabakh talks.

Tension in talks affects situation on front line

Numerous military experts regard the build-up of tension along the
front line as natural. They think that the military units stationed on
the front line might be seen as a barometer of the Karabakh talks
between Azerbaijan and Armenia. As soon as tension heightens in talks,
the combat readiness of the front line military units, specifically
the deployment of additional troops and hardware, also increases.

“If the enemy reinforces its positions and Azerbaijan retaliates, it
will be necessary to pay attention to political talks. So, perhaps,
some misunderstanding appeared in the Karabakh settlement,” the
experts said.

[Passage omitted: reported details]

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