September 30, 2022

CRUSADERS OF SHUSHI

In the evening of May 7, 1992 Armenian troops moved towards Shushi. Director Tigran Khzmalyan recalls a filmed episode: “I still shiver. Military uniforms of the Armenians and Azeris were identical, and our, in order to differ – made crosses with bandages or anything else on their backs: it was easy. When the order “to go” sounded, the soldiers formed up in a row: imagine 400 people in the twilight, with crosses on their backs, and they go to die … It was a real crusade. And the most fantastic was that it was accidental”.

To plan the operation in Shushi, the Karabakh forces started immediately after Khojalu. On April 28, the main directions of the attack were set. The attack was to take place on May 4, but because of sudden snow it was delayed for a couple of days. On May 7, Karabakh forces started the attack in 4 directions. The operation was headed by the commander of Karabakhi military forces Arkadi Ter-Ghukasyan.

The place of arms was near the village of Shosh from where the eastern attack started headed by the first commander of self-defense forces of Karabakh Arkadi Karapetyan. The northern direction (Stepanakert-Shushi) was headed by Valeri Chitchyan, northwestern (Dzhangasan-Kesalar) – Seyran Ohanyan. Yuri Hovhannisyan directed the 26 reserve teams (near the village of Krkzhan, near Stepanakert). The commander of the South direction or the direction of Lachin was Samvel Babayan.

Babayan affirms, “On May 8, the Azeri started leaving the city of Shushi in the morning of May 9. No resistance was shown, no fight happened. Hostages became those people who were hiding not knowing what was happening”.

Every year, on May 9, Armenians celebrate the liberation of Shushi. Celebrations start at the memorial complex in Stepanakert, then a stop near the tank-monument on the road taking to the city of Shushi. In 2000, the British journalist Thomas de Waal also participated in these celebrations.

Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev fought in the 90 years in Karabakh, where he arrived to accomplish a jihad – holy war. His mujahideens left Shushi among the latter ones. In July 2000, in the mountains of Chechnya, Basayev assured an Azerbaijani journalist that Shushi was taken only because there was no order and control in the Azeri army.

Then, in Baku, the version that the Armenians took Shushi without fights only because of a betrayal by the Azerbaijani military command and political power was spread. Even the Azerbaijani former Defense Minister Ragim Gaziyev was trialed.

In the course of military actions, the Karabakh party lost 58 soldiers. None of them died in Shushi. The Armenians let the enemy leave by Shushi-Lachin road.

Gaziyev, who was accused in the treacherous surrender of Shushi, during the trial confirmed that in May 1992, in Shushi and in the suburbs there were up to 2500-3000 soldiers, 3 T-72 tanks and a T-55 tank, 12 armored vehicles, three multiple rocket launchers Grad BM-21 and 6000 shells for them, three guns, four units of the system “Alazan”, 30 units of anti-aircraft missile complexes “Igla and Strela-2”, twenty units of 82-mm mortar fire, 50 hand mortars more than five million munitions.

Babayan remembers, “We took Shushi with the help of our tactics not with force. We decided to take the enemy into a circle: when the circle tightened the danger to be surrounded enhanced and the Azerbaijani army and population started to panic. This is why they escaped from Shushi. The same tactics was used during other operations too. We tried to avoid frontal fights. Therefore we were able to avoid large losses – the attacking side always has big losses”.

From Tatul Hakobyan’s “Green and black: Karabakh diary”

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