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Nagorno-Karabakh: Residents set fire to their houses

2000 Russian soldiers are to secure the ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh. They cannot prevent a scorched earth policy from being pursued in some areas.

Burning apartment buildings, casualties exchanged between the conflict parties: After the arrival of Russian peacekeepers in the war region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the South Caucasus, there are at the same time further conflicts and signs of détente.

Thus, Azerbaijan has handed over several killed soldiers to Armenia. According to the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence in the capital Baku, these were members of the armed forces who had died in the fighting for the city of Shusha, which had been reconquered by Azerbaijan. In return, Armenia had handed over six killed soldiers to Azerbaijan. The exchange of the dead had been agreed upon at the beginning of the week in an agreement on an end to all fighting. Number of dead unclear

According to the Armenian Ministry of Health in the capital Yerevan, the corpses of more than 2300 dead have been forensically examined so far. Among them are also dead bodies that have not yet been identified. The Karabakh authorities last reported the number of soldiers killed at 1383. In view of the censorship during martial law, the Azerbaijani military has so far made no statements about the losses within its own ranks.

Meanwhile, Armenian villagers set fire to their houses on Saturday to prevent them from falling into the hands of Azerbaijani soldiers. In the village of Charektar in Kalbajar district, which according to a ceasefire agreement must be handed over to Azerbaijan on Sunday, at least six houses were set on fire on Saturday morning.

“Today is the last day, tomorrow the Azerbaijani soldiers will be here,” said one soldier. A homeowner who set fire to the floor in his living room with burning logs said he would not leave his house to the Azerbaijanis. “Everyone will burn down their house today.” By Friday, dozens of houses in Charektar and its environs were on fire.

Armenia, under Russian pressure, had committed itself to hand over control of large areas to Azerbaijan. By Sunday it must relinquish control of the Kalbajar district. The districts of Aghdam until November 20 and Latchin until December 1 are to follow.2000 Russian soldiers to secure Nagorno-Karabakh, originally part of Azerbaijan, had unilaterally declared its independence during the collapse of the Soviet Union. This was followed in the 1990s by a war with 30,000 casualties. The self-proclaimed republic is still not recognised internationally and is considered part of Azerbaijan under international law. However, it is inhabited by a majority of Armenians.

Fighting broke out again at the end of September. In the new war Azerbaijan had reconquered large parts of the territory. The country referred to international law and saw itself supported by its “brother state” Turkey. Armenia, in turn, relied on Russia as a protecting power.

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