Polad Israyil oghlu Hashimov was an Azerbaijani military officer, National Hero of Azerbaijan and a major general who served as the Deputy Commander and the Chief of Staff of the 3rd Army Corps of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces.
Hashimov was a popular military figure who took part in the First Nagorno-Karabakh War and the Four-Day War. He was awarded numerous honours during his military career, including jubilee and other medals. He commanded the Azerbaijani forces during the border clashes with Armenia in July 2020 and was killed on the morning of 14 July while fighting on the front-line in the Tovuz District of Azerbaijan. His death sparked violent protests throughout the country calling for war with Armenia, a prelude to the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, which began in September of the same year. He was awarded the title of National Hero of Azerbaijan posthumously in December 2020.
Hashimov is the first and only general of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces to be killed during battle. Before him, Ismat Gayibov, the first Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan, and Mahammad Asadov, a major general in the Azerbaijani Ministry of Internal Affairs, were killed in November 1991 when the Mil Mi-8 helicopter they were in was shot down by Armenian forces.
Polad Israyil oglu Hashimov was born on 2 January 1975, in Vandam, Gabala District. His father, Israyil, was a metallurgist and worked at an aluminum plant in Sumgayit, first as an engineer, then as a shift supervisor and manager. He died in 2005 after a lengthy illness. His mother, Samaya, worked at the same plant. Hashimov's grandfather, Mikayil, a World War II veteran, named him "Polad"—steel in Azerbaijani. In July 1976, when Hashimov was six months old, his family moved to Sumgayit and settled in the city's 13th micro-district.
Hashimov was admitted to secondary school No. 28 in Sumgayit in 1982, and then to Secondary School No. 33 after its construction in 1986. In 1988, another educational institution, Secondary School No. 34, named after Mikayil Mushfig, was built in the area and Hashimov continued his education there graduating in 1992. Hashimov excelled in mathematics during his secondary education.
Despite intending to be a lawyer, Hashimov decided instead to pursue a military career in 1992 during the height of the First Nagorno-Karabakh War. With his father's consent, he submitted his documents and was accepted to the Baku Higher Combined Arms Command School in August of that year. He graduated in 1995 with a degree in motorised infantry. In 1994, he was sent by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence to a three-month training course at the Tuzla Infantry School in Istanbul, Turkey. In July 2014, he entered the Azerbaijan Higher Military Academy named after Heydar Aliyev, and in 2016, received a master's degree in military leadership.
First Nagorno-Karabakh War
In November 1992, during the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, Hashimov, who was training with the 702nd Motorised Rifle Brigade, fought in the successful defence of the villages of Marzili and Novruzlu in the Aghdam District of Azerbaijan. He participated in Operation Murovdagh in February 1994. He was involved in clashes with Armenian forces in the Guzgu, Koroghlu, and Omar military posts in the Murov range.
After the signing of the Bishkek Protocol ending the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, Hashimov served in military units stationed on the front-line of the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and the self-declared Republic of Artsakh. For many years he was the commander of the military units stationed in Barda, Dashkasan, Haji Zeynalabdin, Murov and Shamkir. From 1995 to 2017, Hashimov held various positions, from motorised rifle squadron commander to military unit commander. He was promoted to major in 2003, and to lieutenant colonel in 2009.
On 1 April 2016, heavy fighting broke out between the Azerbaijani and Armenian forces along the Nagorno-Karabakh Line of Contact, known as the Four-Day War. During the clashes, Hashimov served as Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff of the 1st Army Corps. He commanded the Azerbaijani forces stationed in Tartar District, and during night operations, his forces advanced towards Talish, capturing several strategic locations. He was wounded during the clashes. One of the military posts Hashimov seized near Talış was later renamed "Polad" in his honour. According to Turkish military expert Abdullah Ağar, the Azerbaijani military command ordered Hashimov to withdraw from the territories he had seized during the hostilities. After a ceasefire was reached on the front-line, Hashimov resigned immediately, but the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, intervened and did not allow him to resign.
In 2017, Hashimov was appointed Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff of the 3rd Army Corps. On 24 June 2019, President Aliyev promoted Hashimov to major general, the highest military rank in the Azerbaijani Army.
On 12 July 2020, skirmishes erupted on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, mainly in the Tavush Province of Armenia and the Tovuz District of Azerbaijan. Hashimov commanded the Azerbaijani forces during the clashes. In the first hours of the hostilities, three Azerbaijani servicemen were killed and four more were wounded. These clashes continued the next day using artillery and drone attacks, without infantry. Azerbaijani authorities claimed their forces had "neutralised" more than 20 Armenian servicemen, and destroyed several Armenian firing positions, battalion headquarters, and other military targets. Overall, at least 17 military personnel and one civilian were confirmed killed during the skirmishes.
Further skirmishes occurred at night and continued into the morning of 14 July. In the morning, seven Azerbaijani servicemen, six of them officers, were killed. On the same day, the deputy defence minister of Azerbaijan, Karim Valiyev, announced that Hashimov and Colonel Ilgar Mirzayev were among the fallen Azerbaijani officers.
Hashimov is the first and only general of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces to be killed during military operations. Before him, Ismat Gayibov, the first Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan, and Mahammad Asadov, major general in the Azerbaijani Ministry of Internal Affairs, were killed in November 1991 when the Mil Mi-8 helicopter they were in was shot down by Armenian forces.
At noon on 14 July, Hashimov's body was taken to Vandam and then to Sumgayit, where he lived. He was buried alongside Colonel Mirzayev, on 15 July in the Second Alley of Honor in Baku. Azerbaijan's minister of defence, Zakir Hasanov, chief of general staff, Najmaddin Sadigov, and, the mayor of Baku, Eldar Azizov, attended the funeral. On the same day, President Ilham Aliyev had a telephone conversation with Hashimov's mother, expressing his deep condolences to her.
Hashimov's death caused outrage in Azerbaijani society. When Hashimov's body was taken to his house in Sumgayit, a crowd of hundreds of people from different parts of the city gathered there chanting pro-army slogans.
Hashimov had three siblings, Arzu, Kamala, and Ilham. He married Ophelia Salmanova on 5 September 2003. The couple had three children, Davoud, Teimour, and Aybaniz.
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