Ethnic Armenian villagers in Nagorno-Karabakh set fire to their homes on Saturday before fleeing to Armenia, although some parts of the territory ceded to Azerbaijan as part of a ceasefire agreement can still be seen.
Residents of the Kalbazar district of Azerbaijan, which has been controlled by ethnic Armenians for decades, set off heavily this week after it was announced that Azerbaijan would regain control.
“Children in Armenia are crying and wanting to come back home, which is very sad,” he told Al Jazeera, a tearful resident of Kalbazar.
Fighting between the Azerbaijani army and Armenian ethnic forces erupted in late September and lasted for six weeks. Former Soviet rivals agreed to end hostilities earlier this week following a major advance by Azerbaijani forces.
An important part of the Russia-Brocard agreement was the return of Armenia to Kalbaazar, as well as the Agdam district by November 20 and the Lachin district by December 1, from the devastating war of the 1990s.
‘Great sense of loss’
At least six houses were on fire Saturday morning with thick thickets of ash smoke in the valley – in the village of Charektor, bordering the neighboring district Martakert, which is supposed to be under Armenian control.
“This is my house, I can not leave it to the Turks,” Azerbaijanis, often called by Armenians, said when a resident threw wooden planks and rags dipped in gasoline into a completely empty house.
“Everyone is going to burn down their house today … we were given to leave until midnight,” he said.
On Friday, at least 10 houses were set on fire in the Character area.
Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid reporting power lines from Wardanis in Armenia are also being cut.
“There is great loss in the remaining few. They are chopping wood and taking what they have left and joining their families across the border in Armenia,” he added.
“They are terribly afraid of what will happen next.”
Meanwhile, in Azerbaijan, Osama bin Jawaid of Al Jazeera reported from the capital, Baku, that Aziz’s claim that people were “disappointed” by the sight of burning houses on the ground.
“According to the United Nations, the Azerbaijanis say that this land belongs to them. There is a sense of despair and anger in Azerbaijan about the scenes. [burning homes] They are watching, ”he added.
“They say the Armenians are destroying what does not belong to them,” he added.
Armenia reported the highest number of deaths
Azerbaijan and Armenia on Saturday exchanged the bodies of soldiers killed in clashes around the city of Shusha, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said.
“As part of this humanitarian operation, the bodies of dead soldiers of the Armenian Armed Forces were collected and handed over to the Armenian side,” a statement said. “Also, in the framework of this operation, the bodies of six soldiers of the Azerbaijani army.”
Armenia announced on Saturday that 2,317 soldiers had been killed in the clashes, forcing thousands to flee their homes.
“To date, our forensic service has examined the corpses of 2,317 dead soldiers, including unidentified ones,” Armenian Health Ministry spokeswoman Alina Nichogosyan wrote on Facebook, adding that the death toll from the last of the Armenian warriors had risen by nearly 1,000.
Azerbaijan did not disclose its military casualties.
According to the ceasefire agreement signed by the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia, the mission, which has about 2,000 troops, will set up 16 observation posts in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh and Lachin corridors, Russian military officials said.
Russian military helicopters on Saturday sent a security force escort from the Arabian military base in Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh.
Peacekeepers traveled in a column containing armed personnel carriers and other military vehicles.
Russian peacekeepers have set up a total of 10 observation posts in the region and taken control of the Lachin Corridor, which connects the mountainous region with Armenia.
Peacekeeping includes monitoring violations of the treaty, ensuring transportation security and stopping any crimes against the civilian population.