Rights group Amnesty International on Wednesday urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to immediately investigate the use of “inaccurate and indiscriminate weapons” in civilian areas during the recent fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, saying such attacks violated international law.
Armenia and Azerbaijan, two former Soviet republics, have been involved in a territorial conflict since they gained independence in the 1990s. Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but is historically an ethnic Armenian region, has been the focal point of the conflict between the two nations.
More than 2,000 people have died since the fighting broke out on September 27, including many civilians. The six weeks of fierce fighting ended on November 10 with a Moscow-brokered ceasefire, under which Azerbaijan reclaimed much of the region along with surrounding areas. The peace deal prompted mass protests in Armenia.
Amnesty said it had analyzed “18 strikes by Armenian and Azerbaijan forces which unlawfully killed civilians”, and “visited dozens of strike sites” on both sides after the peace deal was signed.
Both sides have denied targeting civilians during the conflict “despite incontrovertible evidence that they have both done so,” using internationally banned cluster munitions and other explosive weapons “with wide area effects”, the watchdog said in a report on Wednesday.
According to the watchdog, Armenian forces used “inaccurate ballistic missiles, unguided multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS), and artillery,” while Azerbaijani forces “also used unguided artillery and MLRS”. Both sides also used cluster munitions, which are banned under the international Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Human Rights Watch also said that both sides to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict had “committed violations of international humanitarian law that unlawfully harmed civilians”.