Glorious Victory Of Armenian Weaponry

By Levon Melik-Shahnazaryan
24 February, 2010, 5:20 pm

Military successes in Tog and Sarinashen marked the beginning of a
massive armed conflict between Artsakh Armenians and Azeribaijani

Following these victories our troops carried out operations to free
Lesnoe (Meshali), Malibeili, Ashagy (Nerkin), and Gushchular. The
operations were planned by Commandos (Arkady Ter-Tadevosian), and
carried out by Valery Balayan, commander of operations. In Karadagli,
the commander of operations was Karen Babayan. There were long bouts
of heavy fighting resulting in freeing both Stepanakert’s suburbs and
Krkzhan, as well as lifting the blockade around the only airport in
NKR [Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh] and taking the Azerbaijani Special
Police (OMON) base – Khojaly.

With the hope of later returning to the stories about these battles
that preceded the Khojaly conflict, I would like to break from
the chronology for the time being to offer readers an account of
the liberation of this village and the deaths of many hundreds of
civilians from Khojaly.

Strategic Importance of Khojaly

It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of Khojaly for
us as well as the Azerbaijani side. The village is situated on the
main highway connecting Stepanakert and Askeran, actually blocking
Askeran’s district center.

Artillery fire from Khojaly was methodically destroying Stepanakert
and Askeran. In addition, Khojaly practically cut off the northern
part of Artsakh from the southern part.

To provide a broader picture, I should say that the only airport in
Artsakh, which connected this isolated Armenian province to the rest
of the world, was situated in Khojaly.

Both the Azerbaijanis and we knew well the strategic importance of
this village, and both sides were preparing for a fight over Khojaly.

Beginning in 1989, Azerbaijan had begun extensive construction and
repopulation projects in Khojaly. In particular, they brought in more
than 1,000 Meskhetian Turks who had been exiled from Uzbekistan. In
addition to the Meskhetians, as well as volunteers from Azerbaijan
proper, Khojaly also saw an influx of military troops. As a result
of this policy to change the demographic situation, the population
of Khojaly practically tripled, going from 2,135 residents in 1989
to 6,300 in 1991 (1). In 1991, Khojaly was given the status of a town.

Azerbaijan did not limit itself to demographic measures. Baku made
a strong effort to arm the town by spending unlimited money and
resources. Thus, in the vicinity of Khojaly and the nearest county
seat, Agdam, Azerbaijani military forces had 35,000 automatic rifles
and machine guns with sufficient supplies of ammunition (2).

Additionally, in mid-February of 1992, before flying to the CIS (3)
Summit in Minsk, the President of Azerbaijan Mutalibov ordered 11
tanks and 12 BMP-2 Armored Personnel Carriers to be moved to Agdam
county in order to protect Khojaly and threaten Stepanakert (4). The
current NKR Defense Army would not view these numbers as significant,
of course, however in 1992 they represented a serious threat.

Our field intelligence knew about these Azerbaijani preparations. We
completely understood how difficult it would be to silence the guns
spread across the town and de-blockade the nearby airport. On the
other hand, we also understood that without completing this difficult
task, further defense of Artsakh from the enemy would be pointless
as Artsakh would not be able to sustain a prolonged blockade. The
region was already affected by hunger. As Anjelika Chechina, a Russian
journalist and human rights activist wrote, "January 21-25 I was in
Stepanakert. The city still had no electricity or water. Water is
obtained with such difficulty that it is almost shameful to drink tea.

There are no products to trade for food stamps. There are cases of
hunger edema in the city. Stepanakert reminds me of documentaries
about Nazi-blockaded Leningrad" (5).

The Azerbaijanis also understood the situation in Artsakh. They
understood that the Armenians must try to silence the guns placed
in Khojaly and de-blockade the airport. Because of this and in an
effort to lower Armenian interest in this strategic town, A. Mutalibov
ordered the airport facilities and equipment destroyed (6).

In light of the growing Azerbaijani military presence in Agdam, the
Armenians had another equally important reason for storming Khojaly,
and that was providing the highest level of defense for Stepanakert.

The presence of a fast growing and well-armed Azerbaijani town
[Agdam] had seriously complicated the defense of the NKR capital
[Stepanakert]. Thus, there was a natural need for a preventive strike
to stop the destruction of Stepanakert and nearby Armenian villages
and assure survival of the Armenian state.

It is said that the conflicting sides clearly placed a heavy strategic
value on Khojaly. This new and growing town was poised to become the
arena of unmerciful fights, and both sides were preparing for exactly
this situation.

The need to silence the guns in Khojaly was understood by everybody.

However, it was also understood how difficult this task would be. On
the other hand, Armenian forces had become better armed compared to
only a few months earlier. At the end of fall 1991, the Armenians
were successful in disarming a Soviet police regiment stationed
in Stepanakert, taking possession of the arms and ammunition. The
regiment had been sent to Stepanakert earlier by the USSR Ministry
of Internal Affairs to prevent inter-ethnic violence in Artsakh.

However, in anticipation of the disintegration of the Soviet Union,
the regiment’s commanders disappeared and the remaining soldiers were
not willing to shed their blood defending equipment belonging to a
dying country. Of course, negotiations played a role too, and it only
helped that the negotiators from our side were in a very decisive mood.

In any case, the arms of this regiment, including armored vehicles,
got into our hands. The fact that the Armenians had used three Armored
Personnel Carriers was, by the way, used later by Azerbaijanis in
their propaganda. To this day they claim to the world that troops
from the 366th Regiment of the USSR Ministry of Defense, which had
been stationed in Stepanakert, participated in this attack. However,
as was seen, we did not need help from outside forces. We were
thoroughly prepared for this operation. Although I have at hand the
exact statistics for this fight, I will withhold the total number of
our troops involved in this operation for now. For now I will say
only that significant improvements in quality within the Armenian
forces had taken place by that time, and I am not referring only to
weapons. I will note one more fact; that many of our volunteer squads
had advanced to the level of military companies.

The operation was planned and commanded by Kommandos. On the map that
he drew you can see that our forces were to enter Khojaly from four
directions. The first was from the Mekhtishen side. From this side the
detachments commanded by Sasun, Suren, Levon, Akop, Vitaly, and Afo,
as well as some troops from the 6th Company. The second direction
was from the Noragjukh side. Here the attack was performed by troops
from the 3rd and 9th Companies (Commanders Tigran and Yura), and
also the detachments led by Aramo, Gagik and Edik. From the third
direction, from the side of the village of Katuk, were fighters
of the 1st Company – Commander Ashot Gulyan (Bekor), 2nd Company –
Commander Karen Babayan (Karo), 4th Company, Albert’s detachments
and a group of volunteers from Ballugi and Kert. The most important
was the fourth direction, which was designated in the Military Order
and in the Forces Distribution Account as the "special direction." In
this direction our soldiers were to enter the airport territory from
which they would fight their way into the center of the town. It was
from this direction that we used the Armored Personnel Vehicles and
also Smbat’s small mobile group.

I should also mention that our forces did not use the majority of the
territory on the right embankment of the river Karkar. This territory
was designated for exit of the civilian population and the flight of
Azerbaijani Askers (7). We were striving to avoid any unnecessary
losses of civilian population. In addition, we understood that
if the Azerbaijanis had no opportunity for escape they would have
not option other than a fight to the end. It would not, of course,
influence the outcome of the operation, however we were trying to
avoid unnecessary deaths.

During the preparations for this operation we discovered that not all
of our commanders (formerly farmers, workers, engineers, etc.) could
read maps. The solution we found was very original. We asked an
architect from Stepanakert named Volodya Stepanyan, I believe, to
make a model of the town. The "builder" of this project was Warrant
Officer Samvel. These two worked hard through the night to build
the model of Khojaly, an exact copy of the town with all its newly
constructed apartment buildings.

After the operation was decided on the map and walked through on the
model it was time to brief each commander so they would understand
their respective objectives. At the same time, the importance of
the upcoming operation was explained to all the soldiers. Everybody
understood that losses would be unavoidable, and although we could
see the resolve in their eyes, we felt the need to motivate them
and get them "fired up." We explained that the planned operation was
completely thought through, down to the smallest detail, and there
would be only a small number of losses.

At this time something occurred that caused the operation to be
delayed by four days. I don’t remember the exact date, the 19th or
20th of February, there was a meeting where Kommandos reviewed the
details of the operation and gave the company and platoon commanders
final directions. After the meeting I went to work, and about 20
minutes later I got a call from Ashot Khachatryan who asked me to
return to the headquarters immediately. Understanding that something
unusual was going on, I rushed to headquarters. At the entrance I met
Vardan (Dushman) who was literally rabid, I can’t find another word
to describe it. He was ranting about the "dumb general who doesn’t
understand anything" (his actual words were much more expressive).

After calming him down a little, I rushed up the stairs and entered
Kommandos’ office where I witnessed the end of a very nasty talk
between him and a "very highly ranked military officer" who had
recently arrived in Stepanakert from Yerevan.

It is necessary to say that the highly ranked military bureaucrat
was at headquarters at this time. After the meeting, he went to the
troops and started to "reinforce their warrior spirit." He was telling
the commanders that according to military science the attacking side
loses 25-30% when taking a fortified inhabited place.

It’s no surprise that our guys felt demoralized. They all knew that
for each killed there are usually 3-4 wounded. We are all pretty good
with math, and this highly ranked officer’s math predicted a complete
loss of all of our troops even in the most favorable scenario. At that
time Kommandos entered the room, quickly evaluated the situation and
cancelled the operation. After that, the highly ranked officer began
to accuse Kommandos of derailing a strategically important military
task. Quite a nasty conversation took place between them and I arrived
at the very end of it.

The highly ranked officer insisted that the guys going into the
fight ought to know the truth. Kommandos did not disagree but felt
certain that comparatively fewer losses were closer to the truth,
which the highly ranked officer refused to understand. At that moment,
the visitor said something along the lines of, "as a superior rank
officer he was relieving Kommandos from his position." Now Kommandos
was really angry and his speech became richly mixed with professional,
virtuoso-level swear words of the Russian Army. He quickly explained
to the highly ranked officer in very simple terms that nobody has
the right to remove him from his position because nobody installed
him in this position. He was elected by people. The visitor backed
down and we returned to our troops.

It was necessary to again raise their spirits and fighting will,
and explain to them that everything the highly ranking officer
had learned and the way he acted his whole life was according to
instructions developed for countries where nobody cared about the
number of war casualties. We told our troops that our small Armenian
nation has no right to fight using such instructions, that each and
every soldier matters, and that the operation was designed to avoid
casualties to the greatest extent possible. Additionally, the troops
were reminded about the contents of the Order No. 1, in which it was
said that violence against the civilian population and prisoners was
unacceptable. Anyhow, the operation was delayed and, as is now well
known, began on February 25th at 23:00.

The Storm of Khojaly

Khojaly, please note on the map, is a well-fortified town with
enormous amounts of weapons and practically unlimited supplies of
ammunition. Our field intelligence quite naturally was studying Khojaly
for a long time trying to identify locations of Azerbaijani military
units, storage locations for ammunition, and fortified places in the
town. The Azerbaijani military that was tasked to defend the town
installed machine guns in all possible directions where the Armenians
could advance. In addition, in the most dangerous places they built
shelters out of cement and closed roads with cement blocks.

There were Armored Personnel Carriers in town and two BM-21 "Grad"
rocket launchers. Plus, all major access points around Khojaly were
flat landscape with a direct line of fire from the town. Even with
all of these factors, the defenders of the town were overwhelmed so
quickly that afterwards it gave the Azerbaijani side reason to talk
about the possibility of treason committed by the highest levels of
power in Baku.

In reality, the success of this operation was guaranteed by the very
detailed plan and amazingly well coordinated and heroic actions of our
troops. The operation itself started with an artillery bombardment that
was quite limited due to the resources at hand. However, the shots were
effective enough as the fire was concentrated where Azerbaijani troops
were known to be located, as identified by our scouts in advance. After
this, our troops attacked from all four directions simultaneously.

The units advancing from the 4th (special) direction on three Armored
Personnel Carriers pushed into the territory of the airport and,
going around the cement blocks, advanced to a flat area from which the
whole town was visible providing an unobstructed view for shooting. At
the same time our troops advancing from Mekhtishen destroyed one of
the enemy’s Armored Personnel Vehicles and, going around a building
construction plant, took a local high point from which they opened
fire on an Azerbaijani police detachment. The police retreated
practically immediately.

The second wing on the Mekhtishen direction went around the
building construction plant from the other side and, passing the
Azerbaijani cement shelters, took out a Special Police station
situated at the cemetery. From this station they took control of
all paths of approach to the airport from the Azerbaijani side and
also the center of the town. Attacks from the Noragyukh side were
also developing successfully. Here our troops also divided into two
wings and surrounded two newly constructed apartment blocks in town
where they destroyed Azerbaijani defense points and began to push the
Azerbaijanis towards the river. At the same time, these same troops
took control over the road between Agdam-Askeran-Khojaly-Stepanakert
taking out one more machine gun nest on the outskirts of the town.

Finally, the third direction was from the village Katuk. Here
the troops had the task of going down from Katuk and, dividing
into two wings, take over a dairy, destroy two machine gun nests,
and enter the most populated and central part of the town from two
sides. After this they were to block movement on the road between
Stepanakert-Khojaly-Askeran-Agdam from the side of Artsakh’s capital
and start pushing the Azerbaijanis toward the river.

All our units carried out their missions with outstanding results.

Although, nobody on our side doubted the final success of the
operation, frankly speaking we did not expect such a quick victory.

At approximately 01:15 AM on February 26th, having returned to
headquarters, I put on headphones of our technical surveillance to
listen to conversations between Azerbaijani radio communications.

After about 10-15 minutes I was lucky to intercept a radio report
from Alif Ghadjiev, Azerbaijani commander of the Khojaly defense. He
was cursing Mutalibov, Baku, Agdam and Shushi, and reported that
they were leaving Khojaly, following the civilian population using
the safe corridor left by Armenians. I took off the headphones and
quickly walked to Kommandos’ office to congratulate him and tell
him about the radio intercept. The operation of liberating Khojaly
was nearing its end. From this moment, the organized defense of the
Azerbaijanis had fallen apart, except for a small group of them who
took cover in a five-story apartment building where they continued
to put up a defense. By 4:00 a.m. on February 26, some of them were
killed and those still alive surrendered.

The operation to take out firing locations in Khojaly and de-blockade
the airport represents significant success by our newly created
defense forces. However, unexpected by us, this operation received
widespread publicity and resonance in the international community.

Azerbaijan accused the Armenian side of mass murder of Khojaly’s
civilian population, and it must be said that they have managed to
achieve a ridiculous level success in this propaganda campaign. On the
other hand, within 24 hours after the operation hundreds of civilians
from Khojaly were indeed found dead. What really happened?

The Fate of Khojaly Civilians – 1

In a different place and different article I have already written
about the fact that after the liberation of Khojaly our forces found
11 bodies of civilians. This number, naturally, does not include
members of military units dressed in military uniform. War is war,
and all of our troops’ efforts to avoid casualties among the civilian
population did not completely succeed, as we can see. Judging from
the characteristic wounds, they died during the shelling before the
attack. Some several hundred more civilians from Khojaly did not take
the opportunity to use the humanitarian corridor and stayed in the
town (their fate will be described later in this article). Where
did the majority of Khojaly civilians die and, more importantly,
how were they killed?

I would like to start by mentioning that Azerbaijani press supports the
fact that Armenians had an order not to shoot at women and children
(8). The fact that we left open a humanitarian corridor for the
safe exodus of the civilian population from the battle zone is also
accepted by everybody, including Azerbaijani sources. In order to
not leave these statements unsubstantiated, I will mention a few
quotes from Azerbaijani and neutral sources. The Mayor of Khojaly
Elman Mamedov said "We knew that this corridor was designated for the
safe exodus of the civilian population…" (9). "The Armenian side
announced the existence of the humanitarian corridor to Azerbaijanis
from loudspeakers, however, it is possible that the majority of the
Khojaly population could have not heard this announcement" (10). Ayaz
Mutalibov, President of Azerbaijan, said "The general foundation for
such a discussion is that the corridor by which people could escape
was left open by the Armenians" (11).

Besides this, long before the attack we, including me personally,
warned Baku and the Khojaly population multiple times, including on TV,
that we were preparing an operation to take Khojaly. These messages had
two goals: a. to spread panic on the enemy side and make the civilian
population leave the town and b. we understood that the absence of
a civilian population would disorient the Azerbaijani soldiers and
would decrease their desire to defend the town.

Here is one frank account of what happened from a Khojaly inhabitant:
"The Armenians gave us an ultimatum… that the civilians would be
better off if they left Khojaly with a white flag. Alif Ghadjiev
told us about this on February 15th, but it did not scare me or
other people. We never believed that they would be able to take over
our town" (12). Mayor of Khojaly Elman Mamedov: "after receiving the
news about their preparing for an operation to take the town, I asked
Agdam to send over helicopters to evacuate elderly people, women and
children. They assured us that they were preparing an operation to
de-blockade the town. The requested assistance never arrived" (13).

Even sources that are indisputably Azerbaijani support this fact: "On
February 24th the Mayor of Khojaly E. Mamedov called Agdam to inform of
the upcoming attack and request helicopters to evacuate elderly people,
women and children. The requested assistance never arrived (14).

Nevertheless, the warnings by the Armenian side made an impact and a
considerable portion of the population left the town before February
25th. The mass exodus of the Khojaly population was visually confirmed
multiple times by NKR military intelligence and also was widely
covered by the press and Azerbaijani radio and TV. During this time,
the Azerbaijani press purposefully created a negative attitude toward
any inhabitants leaving town and stigmatized them with shame.

The obstacles put forth by the authorities were the reason why a
significant number of Khojaly inhabitants could not leave the town
before the attack started.

Out of the remaining civilian population 734 people could not, for
various reasons, leave Khojaly using the humanitarian corridor provided
to them. All of them were transported to Stepanakert, to the Industrial
Autotransport Joint Venture (PATO) where the headquarters of the NKR
Defense Forces had been transferred just prior to the beginning of
the operation. The Armenian side gave them about a hundred sheep so
people could prepare dinner according to their Muslim faith.

I have to say that most of them introduced themselves as Meskhetian
Turks who were brought to Khojaly against their will. Although our
plans were to return all of the Khojaly inhabitants to the Azerbaijani
side, they told this small lie about their ethnicity in the hopes of
being treated better by us. In any case, it was necessary to interview
each of them and find out about possible military secrets, location
of hidden ammunition, etc.

I am fluent in both Azeri and Uzbek languages, [Uzbekistan] being
the location from which the Meskhetian Turks had arrived. Because of
this, the Chairman of the NKR State Department of National Security
Ashot Khachatryan asked me to talk to all of the people from Khojaly
that were gathered at PATO. Approximately half of them were indeed
Meskhetian Turks who, for the second time in the past few years, were
forced to experience the misery of being refugees. We offered to let
these poor people stay in Khojaly, guaranteeing their safety, but they
didn’t take this offer. It is interesting that their refusal to stay
was motivated by a simple fear of the Azerbaijanis. The Meskhetians
knew that the Azerbaijani military had a large concentration of
troops in Agdam and assumed that if the Azerbaijanis ever took back
Khojaly from the NKR forces they would be killed as traitors of Islam
interests. (On a serious side note, years later I met one of the
Meskhetian former "prisoners" at an open market in Stavropol where he
was selling cheese. The Turk complained about his life and was happy
that in the Winter of 1992 he had "held captive" together with his
entire family and he was also sorry that his tribesmen decided to
decline our offer to stay in Khojaly).

In the middle of these "enlightening" talks with the Khojaly
inhabitants, Zhanna Galstian arrived with six or seven foreign
journalists who wanted to talk to them. We didn’t impede them at all
and they walked into one room where some people from Khojaly were.

Later Zhanna, looking openly pleased, told us that in response to
condolences expressed by an English journalist that they had become
prisoners, the Meskhetians started talking all at once, practically in
chorus, telling him that they didn’t see themselves as prisoners. "We
were prisoners in Khojaly where they placed us against our will. Here
we are safe."

Anyhow, on February 28th all of the people from Khojaly were
transferred back to the Azerbaijani side without any preconditions.

The fact that this voluntary transfer of Khojaly inhabitants to
Azerbaijan occurred, after our thorough investigation, was confirmed
in findings published by the Moscow Human Rights Center "Memorial"
and also witnessed in a documentary film by Svetlana Kulchitskaya,
a journalist from Saint Petersburg.

Thus, Khojaly inhabitants who remained in Khojaly found themselves
in safety, which we can’t necessarily say about those who left the
town at the beginning of the attack.

The Fate of Khojaly Civilians – 2

On the morning of February 26th, Ayaz Mutalibov, President of
Azerbaijan, called Artur Mkrtichian, Chairman of the Supreme Council
of NKR in Stepanakert and informed the Armenian side about multiple
casualties among the Khojaly residents. A. Mkrtichian was quite
surprised, and responded "What are you talking about? Khojaly residents
were given a humanitarian corridor. They left Khojaly before we took
it. Some of your people are here in Stepanakert. We are feeding them
although we don’t have enough food for ourselves.

Please investigate this, they are misinforming you" (15). After hanging
up, Artur Mkrtichian turned to me and asked that I investigate this
issue. I replied that there is no reason to investigate anything
because I just came back from the area where the fighting took place
and there were not many casualties, this wasn’t possible.

Nevertheless, I went back to Khojaly along with A. Khachatrian and V.

Balayan and we looked around the town once more. Not finding
anything that would discredit an Armenian soldier, we returned back
to Stepanakert.

A couple days later we found out that there were casualties involving
Khojaly residents, and there were many, but it happened on the
outskirts of Agdam. What really happened here? And why hasn’t
Azerbaijani state propaganda subsequently grown weary of comparing
Khojaly to… Hiroshima and Khatyn?

Here is an interesting detail. According to K. Stolyarov, a rumor
about the fall of Khojaly and the mass murder of its inhabitants
was already spreading around Baku in the evening of February 25th,
which was several hours before the storm and even before the artillery
shelling began (16). It is worth noting, by the way, that Stolyarov
is a dedicated supporter of A. Mutalibov and his whole book is
full of anti-Armenian rhetoric. Neither Azerbaijan’s Minister of
Internal Affairs T. Kerimov nor Minister of Security V. Guseinov,
according to their own words, were able to identify the sources of
this information. Only after this, already the morning of February
26th, Mutalibov contacted A. Mkrtchan.

Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs understood that the loss
of Khojaly meant a political fiasco for Mutalibov. In the evening of
February 26 they issued a press release in which they claimed that "the
attack of Armenian insurgents on Khojaly was successfully defeated and
Khojaly is again under the control of Azerbaijani forces." However,
this information was immediately refuted by the Popular Front’s
information center which announced that two truckloads filled with
the corpses of Khojaly civilians arrived in Agdam" (17).

The corpses indeed existed. And Khojaly civilians died not in their
town, where Azerbaijani trucks simply could not get to, but on
the outskirts of Agdam. This fact is well known to all Azerbaijani
sources, however this topic is "off limits to talk about." However,
for my reader I would like to list some facts that somehow got into
the press. Mutalibov, for example, justly pointed out that after the
humanitarian corridor was provided for Khojaly civilians to exit there
would be no reason to shoot at them "…especially on the territory so
close to Agdam where, by that time, there were enough forces to come
out and help the people…" (18). Soon thereafter the same Mutalibov,
already ex-President of Azerbaijan, openly expressed his doubt that
Armenians were involved in the mass murder of the civilian population
of Khojaly: "It is possible that some Azerbajanis were indeed killed
by Azerbaijani forces to discredit him" (19). Well-known Azerbaijani
TV journalist Chingiz Mustafayev (Fuat-ogly), noted reporting to
Mutalibov about what he saw from a military helicopter flying over
Khojaly: "it was impossible to photograph corpses in Khojaly because
there was no trace of any dead bodies at all…" (20).

The majority of corpses were found on the outskirts of Agdam where they
were filmed by Chingiz Fuat-ogly on February 29th and again on March
2nd. It was this film footage that was shown in Baku at the session of
Milli Medjlis and subsequently on many television channels worldwide
as proof of the mass killing of the Azerbaijani civilian population
of Khojaly. However, it is this same footage that most clearly exposes
the criminal acts of Azerbaijani politics and propaganda.

Leaving emotions aside, the very fact that the two parts of the
documentary that the operator filmed in the presence of numerous
Azerbaijanis in both plain clothes as well as military uniforms (they
are shown constantly in the footage) is proof that the territory was
controlled by Azerbaijani military forces. Otherwise, we would have to
assume that Armenians left a humanitarian corridor for the civilians
of Khojaly (without this they wouldn’t be able to exit the town; see
the map of the operation to liberate Khojaly), only to kill them on
the outskirts of Agdam and then retreat. Afterwards the same Armenians
again took control of the territory only to defile the dead bodies,
maim them and again retreat, leaving the field covered with corpses to
the Azerbaijani film operators to give them the opportunity to film
all of this so they could show the whole world these "blood-thirsty

The suggestion that the Armenian side thought up and implemented
in cold blood such a tangled multi-step combination of killing and
maiming the very people for whom they had provided the only means of
escape from the surrounded firing pocket, could only come from the
inflamed imagination of a misanthrope.

On the other hand, somebody did maim the corpses. During the second
round of filming on March 2nd, the journalists noticed that the
positions of some bodies and the degree of injuries had changed.

Chingiz Fuad-ogly reported about this to Mutalibov who responded with
prophetic words: "Chingiz, tell nobody that you noticed something
suspicious. Otherwise they will kill you" (21). However, Fuad-ogly,
now doubting the "mark of the Armenians" on this mass murder undertook
a journalistic investigation of the tragedy. He managed to send only
two materials to the Moscow Information Agency "DR-PRESS" wherein
he explained the basis for his suspicion towards the Azerbaijani
side’s participation in this crime. Chingiz Mustafaev (Fuad-ogly)
was killed on the same field where he was filming the main Azerbaijani
"argument." He was killed far away from the front line.

I have in my possession a large body of information that completely
excludes the very possibility that Armenians participated in the mass
extermination of the civilian population of Khojaly. Unfortunately,
the size limit of this publication does not allow me to go deeper into
this question. Frankly, I believe that the abovementioned facts are
sufficient to understand that civilians from Khojaly were killed by
the Azerbaijanis themselves. Whether it was done on purpose or not is
a different issue. It is possible to surmise that Azerbaijani forces
stationed in Agdam took crowds of civilians from Khojaly for advancing
Armenian troops and opened hellfire on them to wipe them out. Later,
trying to hide this unintentional crime and in an attempt to place
the blame on the Armenians they maimed the corpses.

This explanation however does not mean that the Azerbaijani side
tried to help its tribesmen. Armed forces stationed in Agdam not
only ignored the need to help the civilians from Khojaly, they also
intentionally misinformed them. It seems that somebody in Azerbaijan
really needed Khojaly civilian blood. I don’t think it would be outside
of the realm of possibility to discover that it was done to overthrow
Mutalibov. One of the defenders of Khojaly says: "We along with some
civilians from Khojaly got to the [Armenian] village of Nakhijevanik
hoping to find shelter there. We heard on the radio that this village
had been freed from the insurgents. First, shots were fired… A short
fight started in which we were able to get through their post…" (22).

As we can see, people in Agdam simply deceived the people from
Khojaly, directing them to the Armenian village of Nakhijevanik and
thus provoking a fight with Armenian outposts defending the village.

Please note that Nakhijevanik has never been captured by the enemy
neither that time nor any time after that. Armenian village guards
confirm that a group of people from Khojaly unexpectedly made a turn
towards Nakhijevanik and caught the defenders by surprise, killing
two of them and wounding ten. The fact that the people from Khojaly
were deceived is supported by E. Mamedov, the mayor of Khojaly (23).

Finally, there is a very important eyewitness account from S. Abbasov,
another defender of Khojaly. He says that during the fight with
outposts defending Nakhijevanik "With the help of the troops that
came to our rescue from Agdam we were able to get through after a
heavy fight" (24).

So, the Agdam troops "arrived" just as the people from Khojaly managed
to "fight through" to the exact spot where numerous corpses were
subsequently found. But the Armenian troops simply could not have
gotten there! The number of armed Armenians able to fight at the
time described was very limited and most of them were engaged with
the storming of Khojaly. Aside from this, it was necessary to guard
the most dangerous sides from which Azerbaijani forces could launch
counterattacks. These locations were all around the perimeter of NKR.

Here is one more eyewitness account proving that the people from
Khojaly were killed in a place where Armenians could not have been.

These words belong to Leonid Kravets, commander of a helicopter
squadron: "On February 26 I was evacuating the wounded and was
returning back through the Askeran gates. I noticed bright spots
down on the ground. After lowering down my flight engineer shouted
"Look there are women and children there." Yes, by that time I saw
myself about 200 corpses dispersed on the slope. Among these bodies
there were armed people walking… It is thought that these were
refugees from Khojaly. Somewhere 800 meters before the front line of
Azerbaijani outposts an ambush awaited them" (25).

Now lets compare. The bodies according to the pilot were 800
meters from the Agdam outposts. Despite the fact that this number
is exaggerated (800 meters from the outskirts of Agdam, not their
outposts – L.M-Sh.) even this distance is enough to make sure that
small Armenian detachments would not be able to feel safe there –
the landscape of this part of NKR is flat, without natural shelters
and modern weapons could be shot with precision from an even further
distance. Aside from this, recall that Agdam forces went ahead to
rescue, meaning they advanced towards the refugees. It is worth
noting that they were "arriving" for quite a long time – only in the
summer of 1993 was this area and Agdam proper were liberated from
Azerbaijani forces.

But at that time, in February 1992 in the complete darkness people
from Khojaly were walking straight to their death. It is easy to see
how Agdam forces, nervous from having left their fortified positions
and, advancing forward, could take them for Armenians. By the way,
Chingiz Fuad-ogly arrived to exactly the same hypothesis in his report
in "DR-PRESS."

I would also like to add that if this was started by unintentional
error on the part of Azerbaijani military, the actions of Azerbaijani
state propaganda that followed showed to the world the height of
hypocrisy and political dirt. Although I do have a large amount of
factual material showing how Azerbaijani propaganda purposefully
increased the number of victims, the analysis of this is outside of
the scope of this current work. I will give just one example that
illustrates their cynical methods. This is an order issued by Geydar
Aliev, President of Azerbaijani Republic, regarding the genocide
of Azerbaijanis in which it says: "In February 1992, the Armenians
perpetrated an unspeakable reprisal against the population of the city
of Khojaly. This bloody tragedy that is remembered in our history as
the Khojaly genocide concluded with the extermination of thousands
of Azerbaijanis" (26).

Therefore, as a result of dirty internal political games in Azerbaijan,
Baku politicians twisted this glorious victory of Armenian forces into
an emotional game they are playing with not only their own people,
but also the international community.

Nevertheless, I would like to highlight one more time that the
suppression of fire coming from Khojaly relieved Stepanakert and the
surrounding Armenian villages from the terror of endless artillery
shelling from that side. In addition, the success of this operation
created circumstances that eased the delivery of food to Stepanakert
from the villages of Askeran, Martakert and Shauhmyan districts.

Without exaggeration, this fact helped to save tens of thousands of
civilians living in Stepanakert from starvation and brutal shelling.

I would also add that, during the very short period of time that the
Khojaly airport remained functional dozens of wounded civilians and
soldiers who needed urgent specialized medical care were saved.

The taking of Khojaly presented an opportunity to create a deeply
echeloned defense for Stepanakert. This played an especially
important role during the Azerbaijani army offensive against NKR
in the summer-fall of 1992. Finally, the suppression of fire from
Khojaly allowed Armenian forces to prepare for their main task –
the liberation of the ancient Armenian city of Shushi.


(1) According to Moscow Human Rights Center "Memorial" – Nezavisimaya
Gazeta, June 18, 1992

(2) K. Stolyarov. Disintegration: From Nagorny Karabakh to
Belovezhskaya Puscha, Moscow 2001, p. 268

(3) CIS: Commonwealth of Independent States

(4) K. Stolyarov, see above mentioned source, p. 251

(5) Novoe Vremya, # 2, 1992

(6) K. Stolyarov, p. 255

(7) Asker is the word for soldier in Azeri language

(8) "Azadlyg" February 26, 1992

(9) Russkaya Mysl, March 3, 1992, quoted according to "Bakinski

(10) Nezavisimaya Gazeta, June 18, 1992

(11) Nezavisimaya Gazeta, April 2, 1992

(12) T. Goltz, Requiem for a Would-Be Republic, ISIS, Istanbul, 1995

(13) Megapolis-Express, No. 17, 1992

(14) Khojaly: Chronicle of Genocide. Editor: Elmira Akhundova.

Azerbaijani State Publishing Company. Baku 1993, p. 16

(15) Nezavisimaya Gazeta, April 2, 1992

(16) Report of Moscow Human Rights Center of Memorial Society, K.

Stolyarov, see abovementioned work, p. 253

(17) Memed Safarly. Fights in Karabakh Continue, Nezavisimaya Gazeta,
February 28, 1992

(18) K. Stolyarov, see abovementioned work, p. 257

(19) A Zverev. Ethnic Conflicts in Caucasus, 1988-1994, "Disputed
Borders of Causcasus" Moscow, 1996, p. 32

(20) K. Stolyarov, see abovementioned work, p. 253-255

(21) K. Stolyarov see abovementioned work, p. 255

(22) Khojaly. Chronicle of a Genocide. Editor – Elmira Akhundova
"Azerbaijani State Publishing House, Baku, 1993, p. 31-32

(23) Zaur Kadymbekov. Tragedy of Khojaly. Pravda March 7, 1992;
also see Khojaly. The Chronicle of Genocide, p. 29

(24) Moscow. "Megapolis-Express" # 17, 1992

(25) Khojaly. Chronicle of a Genocide. Editor: Elmira Akhumdova.

Azerbaijani State Publishing House, Baku, 1993, p. 124

(26) National Histories in Soviet and Post-Soviet States, see
Attachments, Moscow, 1999, p. 403-404