The 4th Defense Region of the Defense Army During the April War
On April 2, 2016 at 3 a.m. the April war, a new phase in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, started. The defenders of our motherland withstood the armed enemy. Along with skillful officers the conscripts fought bravely as heroes. The heavy combats took place in southeastern and northeastern parts of the frontline. It is possible that the enemy was planning to divert Armenian forces to active military operations to those directions in order to weaken the central part of the frontline, but the idea eventually failed. What took place in the Akna (Aghdam) region was equally important in the whole picture but it seems that the media has not paid enough attention to it. According to the combat plan, Azerbaijani forces approached the central part in order to launch combat operations starting from the second day. It was later proved by the documents of the pilot of an Azerbaijani helicopter, downed on April 2 in the vicinities of N military post of the 9th Defense Region.
Supposedly the Azerbaijani side generally intented to gain superior position and to crach the Armenian frontline with the help of its main forces. The objective of this plan could have been reaching and capturing Akna and surrounding heights (most importantly – Ughtasar). Only after accomplishing this task could the adversary move forward towards the Askeran-Stepanakert line.
On April 2, at 3 a.m. the enemy shelled the battle lines of the 4th Defense Region. In order to organize the management of detachments of the defense region properly, prepare for and repel the Azerbaijani attack, the command switched to combat working regime. Bringing the the forces of the defense region to full combat preparedness, Armenian forces started defense operation on April 2, in the afternoon. It is worth noting that the defense forces took the battle lines being under intensive and uninterrupted shelling by the enemy. In fact, all Azerbaijan has done in the central and eastern lines of the Defense Army of the NKR from April 2 to afternoon of April 4, were preparatory measures for a larger attack. The enemy also used UAVs to investigate the frontline and other elements of defense battle lines intensively and uninterruptedly.
It is noteworthy that Azerbaijani Armed Forces started new accumulations and regroupings beginning from April 2 and reportedly brought 3 artillery brigades and other artillery and general military staff forces to the frontline. As part of elaborated tactics, tank subdivisions were constantly moving, maneuvering and taking new shooting positions along the batlle lines of the 4th Defense Region, trying to spread panic among Armenian border defense forces. Evidently, in the central part of the frontline accumulations reached their apogee on April 4. During this the enemy was constantly bringing new forces to the frontline.
On April 4 at 17:30 observers of the artillery subdivision of the 4th Defense Region detected motorcades and artillery batteries along the Akna frontline, near the Azerbaijani villages of Ballar, Sarijali, Chemenli and separated tank columns near the villages of Gharadaghli, Evoghlu and Afatlu as well as fire positions of artillery batteries in the outskirts of Afatlu, Evoghlu, Gharadaghli, Mahrizlu, Sarijali villages. At 18:00, the central artillery military unit and divisions of the 4th Defense Region of the NKR Defense Army opened salvo fire against those accumulations. Artillery subdivisions of the central defense region of the Defense Army played a key role here. The central artillery subdivisions managed to suppress the above mentioned brigades and destroy the command center of the brigade with a combined slavo fire.
Due to the discipline and well-preparedness, the detachments of the Defense Army stopped the enemy. Reportedly, the Armenian shelling on the Garadaghlu direction cost Azerbaijan 3 tanks and 200 killed.
On April 27-28, for the second time the Armenian artillery detachments engaged in artillery shootings and completely fulfilled the combat mission. Azerbaijan did not care about the security of its own population and deployed artillery batteries just 100 meters far from Azerbaijani villages, whereas according to international law (First Draft of the Geneva Convention on Protection of War Victims, August 12, 1949, Article 52) military objects are legitimate targets. Nevertheless, Azerbaijani forces violated the Article 58 of the same draft and deployed military objects in or nearby residential areas.
Vitali Balasanyan, Hero of Artsakh, the commander of the Askeran Defense Region during the Artsakh war, 1988-1994, Colonel Genadi Baghdasaryan, artillery commander of the 19916 military unit of the Defense Army, Colonel Grigor Sahakyan, commander of the central artillery military unit of the Defense Army, and other artillerists played a key role in organizing the protection of Defense Army’s central and eastern defense lines. On April 2-5, 2016 Colonel G. Baghdasaryan skilfully ran the artillery fire and annihilated the commander points, reactive artillery, mine throwing subdivisions, infantry and tank subdivisions which were attacking in the routes leading to progress, the lines, centralised regions and starting positions in the central defense part of the Defence Army. Ultimately, Armenian forces undermined enemy’s management system, gained shooting privileges and failed the attack of enemy’s exceeding powers.
Artillery, the “God of war” actually played an indispensable role in the war. The artillerists of the Defense Army, from privates to colonels, completed their combat mission with confidence and successfully neutralised Azerbaijan’s plans. The April war clearly showed that we have well-prepared officers and soldiers. As Major A. Hakobyan, commander of artillery headquarter of the 4th Defense Region said, “Our artillery expanded and took military positions under the active shootings of the enemy, but we did not suffer losses only due to the accurate and directed leadership of our commanders. On April 4, we hit the enemy in its own territory and stopped the advancement of its artillery subdivisions. As a result, the enemy had huge human and material losses. Under our intensive and cooperating shelling the enemy suffered huge losses in technique and armaments, some artillery subdivisions were destroyed. There was nothing accidental during these military actions, since we assessed the military situation correctly and therefore perfectly performed the primary defense task, i. e. the artillery prevention. We did our best and if the military actions continued, we would definitely have serious achievements already in the enemy territory”.
 Hovhannisyan A., The April War: brief history in «The 25th anniversary of NKR (Artsakh) statehood: achievements and modern challenges», Proceedings of International Youth Conference, Yerevan 2016, p. 243.
 Ibidem. See also Azerbaijani Mi-24 helikopter downed by the Karabakh’s anti-aircraft forces (Video, photo), The Official Website of the NKR Defense Army, 2 April 2016, http://nkrmil.am/news/view/192 (retrieved 03.11.2016).
Hovhannisyan A., op cit, p. 246.
Hovhannisyan A., op cit, p. 247.
 The Azerbaijani Armed Forces Target their own Population, The Official Website of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Armenia, 28 April 2016, http://www.mil.am/hy/news/4030 (retrieved 08.11.2016).
 Baghdasaryan E., Artillery Commander of the Defense Army, The artillery forced the opponent to refrain from further military actions, «Hetk», 11 May 2016, http://hetq.am/arm/news/67907/pb-hretanu-pet-hretanin-krakayin-khocmamb-hakarakordin-stipec-hrazharvel-hetaga-martakan-gortsoxutyunneric.html (retrieved 05.11.2016); List of the servicemen awarded the State Awards of the Republic of Armenia, Artsrun Hovhannisyan’s Facebook Page, 10 May 2016, https://www.facebook.com/arcrun/posts/1036756516359956 (retrieved 01.02.2017).
 «Aspet» (Bulletin of N military unit), N 6, 2016, p. 4.