Monte Melkonian was an Armenian revolutionary, left-wing nationalist militant and commander. He was the leader of an offshoot of the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia in the 1980s and the most celebrated commander during the Nagorno-Karabakh War in the early 1990s.An Armenian-American, Melkonian left the United States and arrived in Iran in 1978 during the beginning of the 1979 Revolution, taking part in demonstrations against the Shah. Following the collapse of the Shah's monarchy, he traveled to Lebanon during the height of the civil war and served in an Armenian militia group in the Beirut suburb of Bourj Hammoud. In ASALA, he took part in the assassinations of several Turkish diplomats in Europe during the early to mid-1980s. He planned the 1981 Turkish consulate attack in Paris. He 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.
Melkonian had no prior service record in any country's army before being placed in command of an estimated 4,000 men in the Nagorno-Karabakh War. He had largely built his military experience beginning from the late 1970s and 1980s, when he fought in Lebanon with ASALA. Melkonian fought against various factions in the Lebanese Civil War and against the IDF in the 1982 war.
Melkonian carried several aliases over his career and was known as Avo to the 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 by Azerbaijani soldiers while surveying Merzili with five of his comrades in the aftermath of battle. He was buried at Yerablur cemetery in Yerevan and declared a National Hero of Armenia in 1996.