Smoke billows from a burning house in Karvachar, Nagorno-Karabakh, on Friday. AP
Gulf Today Report
Villagers in Nagorno-Karabakh set their houses on fire Saturday as Russian peacekeepers in trucks and armoured personnel carriers moved in after a peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
On Friday at least 10 houses were burned in and around Charektar.
A group of ethnic Armenian men in Lachin, who said they had fought for Nagorno-Karabakh defence forces raised their hands to greet the passing Russian convoy, but said they were not happy with the peace deal.
Smoke and flames surround a burning house in an area once occupied by Armenian forces in Karvachar. AP
Before fleeing to Armenia, villagers set their houses on fire ahead of a weekend deadline that will see parts of the territory handed over to Azerbaijan as part of a peace agreement.
"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.
"Everybody is going to burn down their house today... We were given until midnight to leave," he said.
One of them, Suren Zarakyan, 50, said he had moved to the Lachin region from Yerevan, the Armenian capital, in the 1990s after Armenians took the territory in the first war over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Flames engulf a house in Karvachar, Nagorno-Karabakh, on Friday. AP
Married with two children, he said he had raised honey bees before the war but was not sure now whether the hives were on territory which under the terms of the peace deal would now be handed to Azerbaijan.
He said he felt shame when he heard about the truce agreement, which froze the Azeri territorial gains and paved the way for Moscow's deployment of troops in the enclave.
"I expected more from Russia and sooner," he said. "But Russia is interested in its bases and goals. It does not matter if it’s a base in Azerbaijan or in Armenia. It is interested in not letting the Turks here."
Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed on a deal with Russia to end weeks of fierce clashes over Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday, after Russian peacekeeping troops deployed to the war-ravaged enclave of the region.
With Russia’s mediation, Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to a cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh starting at noon on Saturday following two weeks of heavy fighting that marked the worst outbreak of hostilities in the separatist region in a quarter-century.
Armenia’s foreign ministry said on Friday it was ready to engage with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to re-establish a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh, where fighting has been raging since Sunday.
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