On the eve of a deadline that will see parts of the territory handed over to Azerbaijan as part of a ceasefire agreement, the ethnic Armenian villagers in Nagorno-Karabakh set their houses on fire. “Children in Armenia are crying and want to return home, it is such a sorrow,” a Kalbajar resident told.
At least 6 houses were on fire on a village on the border with the neighbouring district of Martakert, which is to remain under Armenian control. “This is my house, I can’t leave it to the Turks,” as Azerbaijanis are often called by Armenians, said one resident as he threw burning wooden planks and rags soaked in gasoline into a completely empty house. Residents hug as they stand near a house set on fire by departing ethnic Armenians, in an area which had held under their military control but is soon to be turned over to Azerbaijan, in the village of Cherektar in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The dispute between the Azerbaijani army and ethnic Armenian forces erupted in late September and raged for six weeks. The ex-Soviet rivals agreed to end hostilities earlier this week after major advances by Azerbaijan’s troops. A key part of the Russia-brokered deal includes Armenia’s return of Kalbajar, as well as the Aghdam district by November 20 and the Lachin district by December 1, which have been held by Armenians since a devastating war in the 1990s.