Azeri reports of Armenian officer captured in Nagorno Karabakh

Azeri defence officials reported a military incursion repelled on line-of-contact with Nagorno Karabakh in the Goranboy-Martakert area, resulting in Armenian “losses” (sic) and an Armenian officer, Gurgen Alberyan, being captured. The incident was reported by Azerbaijan’s Defence Ministry to have taken place at 5:45 hours on 23 August.

Later during the day, a video of the reported officer captured by the Azeri side was circulated on Azeri media (1, 2). The video shows an individual in Armenian military fatigues kneeled or seated at a possible high-altitude outpost with snow falling, with Azeri serviceman speaking around him.   Despite having occured in August, snow was seen falling in the video.

Video of reported capture by Azeri media

Some online comment refuted the video as being inaccurate, as snow appeared to be falling in the month of August. Nowever weather patterns in the area showed rain at the Azeri village of Gulustan, Martakert in Nagorno Karabakh and Goranboy and Dashkesen further away from the line of contact, which at high-altitudes could possible translate into snow, making the snow in the video possible at this time of the year.

Authorities in Armenia, and not Nagorno Karabakh, were the first to officially comment on the incident. Defence spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan refuted the reports of a border incursion attempt by Armenian forces, but did report a serviceman, Gurgen Alaverdyan, lost (different surname from that mentioned by Azeri authorities) as a result of being disoriented during bad weather conditions. The report also mentioned that a search was underway to locate him, with no mention of a serviceman being captured. At the time of writing, Nagorno Karabakh authorites had not yet issued a comment on the matter.

If report of capture is true, this is second Armenian citizen under Azeri control in a little over a month, when on 15 July Narek Sardaryan was reported by Azeri authorities to be under their control in Nakchivan. 

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