Nov 25 marks Artsakh war hero Monte Melkonian’s 56th birth anniv.

Nov 25 marks Artsakh war hero Monte Melkonian’s 56th birth anniv.

PanARMENIAN.Net - Armenia marks the 56th birth anniversary of Artsakh war hero Monte Melkonian on November 25.

Monte Melkonian was born on November 25, 1957 in Varselia (a town not far from Frezno), California. In 1969, his family moved to Spain. After leaving school, Monte left for Turkey to see his ancestors' lands. Later he moved to Lebanon. Upon his return to United States, Monte entered Berkley University, to specialize in archaeology and Asian history. After internship in Japan he worked as a teacher in the Armenian schools of Iran and Lebanon (beginning 1957). Monte Melkonian knew 7 languages, and had the degree of Associate Professor of History.

In the 1970s, Melkonian took part in Lebanese Civil war. In spring 1980, he joined ASALA. He planned and organized the seizure of Turkish Embassy in France (known as Van operation) and several other operations against Turkish representative offices in European states. While ASALA member, he took part in the assassinations of several Turkish diplomats in Europe during the early to mid-1980s and was later arrested and sent to prison in France. In 1989, he was released and in the following year, acquired a visa to travel to Armenia.

In 1991, Monte travelled to Shahumian region (north of Karabakh), where he fought for three months. There he participated in the capture of Erkej, Manashid and Buzlukh villages.

On February 4, 1992 Melkonian arrived in Martuni as the regional commander. Upon his arrival changes were immediately felt: civilians started feeling more secure and at peace as Azeri armies were pushed back and were finding it increasingly difficult to shell Martuni's residential areas with GRAD missiles.

In April 1993, Melkonian was one of the chief military strategists who planned and led the operation to fight Azeri fighters and capture the region of Karvachar (Kalbajar) which lies between the Republic of Armenia and former NKAO. Armenian forces captured the region in four days of heavy fighting, sustaining far fewer fatalities than the enemy.

Throughout his tenure, Melkonian carried several different aliases including "Abu Sindi", "Saro", "Timothy Sean McCormack" and "Commander Avo," the last of which was the name addressed by troops under his command in Nagorno Karabakh.

The last years of his life were spent fighting with the Nagorno Karabakh Defense Army. Monte was killed in the abandoned Nagorno Karabakh village of Merzuli in the early afternoon of June 12, 1993, with controversial reports about the circumstances of his death. He was buried at Yerablur cemetery in Yerevan, Armenia and is revered by Armenians as a national hero.

The conflict between Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan

The conflict between Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan broke out as result of the ethnic cleansing launched by the Azeri authorities in the final years of the Soviet Union. The Karabakh War was fought from 1991 (when the Nagorno Karabakh Republic was proclaimed) to 1994 (when a ceasefire was sealed by Armenia, NKR and Azerbaijan). Most of Nagorno Karabakh and a security zone consisting of 7 regions are now under control of NKR defense army. Armenia and Azerbaijan are holding peace talks mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group up till now.

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