Anger, Fear and Sorrow Consume Armenians Leaving Land Returned to Azerbaijan

Anger, Fear and Sorrow Consume Armenians Leaving Land Returned to Azerbaijan
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KALBAJAR, Azerbaijan—Charred homes and businesses line the main road that cuts through the mountain villages in this part of the South Caucasus. A faint smell of smoke hangs in the air. On the side of one torched building someone has scrawled a parting message: “We will be back.”
The ethnic Armenian inhabitants of the area are fleeing this land that is to be turned over to Azeri forces on Nov. 25 as part of a Russian-brokered peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan. And they are determined to destroy whatever they can’t take with them.
Trees have been felled. And nothing but a few workbooks and desks remain in the burned-out shell of a local school.
“We are builders, not burners. It is something that is hard to do,” said Arshak Zakaryan, who was methodically dismantling the restaurant his family has run for two years on the outskirts of Dadivank, a village in the Kalbajar district. “We can’t live with Azeris,” said the 52-year-old entrepreneur, who keeps an AK-47 rifle close at hand.
Kalbajar and two other districts next to the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh are to be handed back to Azerbaijan from Armenia as part of a Nov. 10 agreement ending six weeks of fighting between the two countries over the enclave.