Human Rights Defenders publish report on use of incendiary weapons against Artsakh

The Human Rights Defender of and the Human Rights Ombudsman of (Nagorno-Karabakh) published an ad hoc report on the use of incendiary ammunition of mass destruction (incendiary weapon) containing chemical elements (possibly white phosphorus) against Artsakh by the Azerbaijani armed forces.

Findings of the report are based on the evidence presented in the report (18+ photos of civilians’ body injuries, map illustrations, etc.). Specific findings are based on studies of the Military Medicine Faculty of the Yerevan State Medical University After Mkhitar Heratsi.

Joint studies the two human rights institutions prove that the incendiary ammunition was used against civilian objects and forests of Artsakh, causing long-term severe damage to peaceful population and environment.

In many cases of use of incendiary mass destruction ammunition forests are close to civilian communities (e.g. Nngi, Sghnakh, Aknaghbyur, Taghavard, Togh, Qarin Tak): even in cases of 100-meter distance.

Hence, the issue is also related to the long-term inevitable damage to the life and health of the civilian population.

The joint fact-finding missions of the two Human Rights Defenders revealed that overall approximately 1815 hectares forest area was damaged almost in all regions of Artsakh. Considering the specificities of the ammunition, this number may increase even if its use will not continue any more.

Moreover, it was also reported that in civilian communities (e.g. Nngi, Taghavard, Aknaghbyur) destructions to the objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population were caused (e.g. gas pipelines).

The current ad hoc report established at least the following facts, irrespective from the concrete type of the chemical element of the used ammunition:

1) the used ammunition has nature of massive destruction;

2) ammunitions contain chemical elements;

3) are used towards forests, causing mass fires and long-term severe damage to environment;

4) according to expert assessments, the fire, caused by this type of weapon is not stopped even with the extinguishing materials or water;

5) the forests where these ammunitions were used, are located close to the civilian communities;

6) according to the fact-finding activities, civilians, who were probably damaged from the use of the ammunition, are hiding from attacks of Azerbaijani military forces in those forests;

7) the use of this ammunition against civilian objects is prohibited by the international law and may entail to war crime.

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