At Front Lines of a Brutal War: Death and Despair in Nagorno-Karabakh

The New York Times – 21 octobre 2020
By Anton Troianovski Photographs by Sergey Ponomarev

Sewing military uniforms and other supplies in a basement in Stepanakert.

STEPANAKERT, Nagorno-Karabakh — On the front line, the stench is overwhelming. The remains of fighters have been lying there for weeks.

In the trenches, there is fear. The Armenians are defenseless against the Azerbaijani drones that hover overhead and kill at will.

At the military graveyard, bulldozers have scraped away a hillside. It is already lined with two rows of new graves, along with soon-to-be-filled, freshly dug, rectangular holes.

Residents taking shelter in the basement of an apartment building in Stepanakert, in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The three-week-old conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over a disputed territory in the Caucasus Mountains, where Europe meets Asia, has settled into a brutal war of attrition, soldiers and civilians said in interviews here on the ground in recent days.

Azerbaijan is sacrificing columns of fighters, Armenians say, to eke out small territorial gains in the treacherous terrain of Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian enclave that is part of Azerbaijan under international law.

Civilians who have stayed behind live in their damp and unheated basements, converted in recent weeks with makeshift kitchens, and where some sleep on flattened cardboard boxes. The shelling and missile barrages into the towns in Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan have killed dozens of civilians and hundreds of soldiers and have filled the nights with terrifying flashes and booms.

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Damage to the House of Culture in Shusha, Nagorno-Karabakh.