Early in January, the military offensives along the full length of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh front resumed again. Azerbaijan engaged almost its entire arsenal – attacking with aircraft, tanks, various heavy weapons, and infantry. 

On January 14, the Azeri troops embarked on an extensive offensive in the direction of the Kichan and Srkhavend villages of the Martakert district, and the Tchartar village in the Martuni district, however, they were not able to advance.

In early February, heavy fighting began at the northern front. After a counter-offensive operation in the Martakert district, the Karabakh forces broke the resistance of those of Azerbaijan in a few days and advanced to the strategic Martakert-Kelbajar road. By late February, they succeeded in re-establishing full control over the road and the Sarsang reservoir where a vital electrical power station operated.

The situation in Artsakh in the spring of1993. Source: Armenia: A Historical Atlas, by Robert H. Hewsen 

From March 27 - April 5, the Defence Forces launched operations to remove the military bases in the Kelbajar region, which presented a serious threat to the western borders of the NKR. On April 3, the firing positions in Kelbajar were neutralized. Having taken the road linking Kelbajar with Kirovabad, (which was the Soviet name of the ancient Armenian town of Gandzak, now called Gyandja by the Azeris), the Karabakh forces advanced to the Omar Pass. During the second half of April, the situation on the front was relatively quiet.

Late in the spring, the situation changed abruptly as the Azeris resumed military operations along the entire length of the front, concentrating their forces on the eastern, Martuni area. Nevertheless, all attempts to break through the defences of the Karabakh troops failed. 

At the beginning of the summer, the Defence Army Command prepared a plan for the liberation of Martakert which required undertaking several offensives in several directions simultaneously. On June 27 the decisive and coordinated actions of the Defence Forces yielded in the liberation of Martakert, which had been under the occupation of Azerbaijan for over a year. 

The situation in Artsakh in the summer of1993. Source: Armenia: A Historical Atlas, by Robert H. Hewsen 

On July 4, the Azerbaijani army began a large-scale offensive in the Askeran, Hadrut and Martakert regions supported by air power and armoured troops. In all regions, they were met with fierce resistance and had to retreat. Shelly, a village that was used by the Azeri’s to mount artillery shelling onto Askeran and Stepanakert, came under the control of the Karabakh forces. However, the constant bombardment of Stepanakert continued from Aghdam, where great numbers of long-range weapons and “Grad” (BM-21) multiple rocket launchers were located. To ensure the safety of Stepanakert, the Artsakh defence forces moved to liquidate the military base of Aghdam. They entered Aghdam on July 23 and removed the threat of systematic shelling of Stepanakert and the threat of further offensives on Askeran and contiguous regions. 

The Aghdam mosque in 2011.

With the loss of their large military base, the Azerbaijani leadership was compelled to propose a cease-fire. On July 25, for the first time during the conflict, an arrangement for a three-day armistice was achieved. 

However, in the beginning of August sustained attacks on Karabakh positions resumed, now from the direction of Jabrail.  When the Self-Defence Forces destroyed a number of Azeri military bases there, an Azeri offensive was launched on the southern borders of the Martuni region and the eastern borders of the Hadrut region on August 16, from the Azerbaijani town of Fizuly. The military units of the NKR Defence Army were able to stand their positions, and even liberate a number of occupied villages in the south of the Hadrut region. 

In the second half of August, fierce fighting took place along the Fizuly-Jabrail-Kubatly line. On the 22nd of August, the Azeri troops were forced to leave the town and region of Fizuly. In two days, the Karabakh troops entered the regional centre Jabrail and took the territory under their control.

On August 26, the Hadrut region of the NKR was entirely liberated. On August 29, Azeris made an attempt to break through the Karabakhi defence positions in the southern regions of the Lachin Humanitarian Corridor, but the NKR army embarked on a counter-offensive, and on August 31 entered the district centre of Kubatly. The same day, an agreement on a 10-day cease-fire was signed between the NKR and Azerbaijan. An arrangement for a meeting between the leaders of Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh was scheduled for the 10th of September. However, the agreement did not effectively transfer the resolution of the military conflict into a political one. The relative tranquillity along the front lasted merely a month and a half. 

On the night of October 10, Azerbaijan resumed military operations in the Hadrut region of the front. On October 21, units from the Azerbaijani Army

 A typical sample of Azerbaijani art. A mural on a building in Aghdam in 2011.

began an attack towards the Hadrut-Jabrail direction, capturing a number of strategic hills and once again threatening the population of the Hadrut region.  On October 24, the NKR Army counter-attacked, neutralizing a number of Azeri firing points, including the Horadis military base which opened the way to isolating the Zangelan region, a part of the Jabrail and the Kubatly regions, from the rest of Azerbaijan. 

In the morning of November 1, the fighters of the Defence Army took the regional centre of Zangelan. Starting on December 10, the Azerbaijani army launched three offensives in the south-eastern sector of the front, but each time the Karabakh army was able to stand its ground. On December 15, the military bases in the Agdjabedu region of Azerbaijan began massive rocket-artillery shelling of the town of Martuni. On December 19, supported by tanks and airpower, the Azerbaijani troops attacked the positions of the Karabakh army in the east of the Martuni region. The NKR armed forces were able to stop the offensive and in the evening of December 20 they drove theAzeris back to their initial positions.  In the following days, the Azerbaijani troops shelled the positions held by the Karabakh troops, combining these with unsuccessful attacks. On December 26, Azeris waged battles in the Martakert, Martuni and Hadrut regions, but did not succeed in advancing. By the end of 1993, territory stretching from the railway junction of Horadis to the state border of Armenia was under Karabakhi control, and a safety zone at the southern borders of the NKR was formed. 

The situation in Artsakh in the autumn of1993. Source: Armenia: A Historical Atlas, by Robert H. Hewsen 

Mercenaries in the First Karabakh War 

In addition to mobilizing all men from the age of 18 to 40, during the December 1993-February 1994 period of the war, Heidar Aliev’s government employed Afghan, Arab, Chechen and Turkish mercenaries to fight against Armenians. Government ministers of Azerbaijan negotiated with the Prime Minister of Afghanistan, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and receiving his consent, deployed around 1500 Afghan Mujahedeens in Artsakh. The mercenaries were mainly from the Hezb-e-Islami group which was under Hekmatyar’s control. They fought in the regions of Fizuli, Jabrail and Ali Bairamli. So-called “Arab Afghans” were a considerable number among them, including the notorious terrorist Khatab who later fought in Chechnya. Afghans came on top of the senior Turkish army officers already in Azerbaijan. From 1991 to 1994 Turkey secretly supplied Azerbaijan with weapons, equipment and ammunition, trained scores of Azerbaijani officers and soldiers in military colleges in Turkey, as well as sent military instructors to Azerbaijan. In 1993 it sent about 250 advisers to Azerbaijan who took part in the planning and implementation of the massive winter assault on Armenian positions. Personal papers, military maps, letters, photos, and national currency confirmed the participation of mercenaries in the war.  Loads of Turkish weapons were supplied to Baku: weapons bearing Turkish insignias (including one tank with the Turkish “Grey wolves” insignia) have been captured, bodies of several soldiers have been identified as Turks. Turkey also actively supports Azerbaijan in all international organizations and fora, speaks and acts on Azerbaijan’s behalf. 

Turkey’s direct, wide-scale and open participation in the 2020 war enabled Azerbaijan to win. Details are available in the respective section of this site.