ARMENIANS BURN HOUSES BEFORE AZERI TAKEOVER OF TERRITORY
Armenians are resorting to a scorched earth policy as the clock ticks down to a handover of territory to Azerbaijan under a Russia-brokered peace deal that followed six weeks of fighting between ethnic Christian Armenian forces and Muslim Azeri troops over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas.
Nestled in the mountains, Charektar is a small village in the Kalbajar district of Azerbaijan, which borders Nagorno-Karabakh. It is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but has been controlled by ethnic Armenians since a war over Nagorno-Karabakh in the 1990s. On Sunday, the Azeris will return and take back control of the area, Reuters reported.
Arsen, 35, an ethnic Armenian fighter who declined to give his surname, said he and other ethnic Armenians had no desire to leave anything useful for the Azeris. He burned his own sister’s home in Charektar rather than allow Azeris to use it. “They will have to build their own houses from scratch,” he said.
Reuters reporters saw six houses, around half the village, on fire in Charektar on Saturday. One man, who refused to give his name, said Armenians were carting off everything they could as trucks nearby loaded up with household possessions. Some residents of Armenia visited the area on Saturday to see it, possibly for the last time, and witness the village’s burning. Armenians are leaving the village, with many fearing the Azeris would kill them if they stay. “Have you ever seen Armenians and the Azeris living together?” one resident told Reuters.