The fighting is intense and locals say they have never seen violence of the scale that Armenian forces are inflicting on Azerbaijanis

We hear the sounds of shelling from early morning as we drive into Azerbaijan’s Teter, a town on the frontlines of the fighting. 

I’m filming from the car, capturing the almost deserted streets and the sounds of shells exploding. 

The homes here are now largely empty. Civilians have fled. Windows are broken. The glass is crunching under my feet as we get out of the car and start filming the damage caused by Armenian missiles.

We meet Telman Muradov as he’s checking the damage to his home.

A missile landed nearby on October 4, remnants of it ripping through his house, somewhere that is now reduced to glass shards and debris.

A photo of his grandchild lays on the bed among the damage.

He’s understandably emotional as he tells us how the shelling forced his family — his son and daughter and grandchildren, who were living with him — to leave.

"There is no military presence here, only children, women and elderly people," Telman says.

He points to the ground under his feet, “this land belongs to us”, he tells us, “this place I am standing on belongs to us. Karabakh belongs to us. We will have the victory because it’s our historic land”. 

Telman was born in Nagorno-Karabakh, but moved here after the region was occupied by Armenian forces.  

"I have one dream before I die and that’s to see Nagorno-Karabakh back with Azerbaijan." 

Many of the people I’ve spoken to in Azerbaijan have echoed similar sentiments.

TRT World's journlaist Behesti Abdullah Tekin reporting at one of the frontline towns of the ongoing Azerbaijan-Armenia clashes.
TRT World's journlaist Behesti Abdullah Tekin reporting at one of the frontline towns of the ongoing Azerbaijan-Armenia clashes. (TRTWorld)

As I’m filming the interview, the shelling starts again and I turn the camera around to make it capture the huge plumes of smoke rising from where the incoming mortar rounds have hit close by. 

It’s incredibly tense. When we’re out on the street, the shelling is loud, the fighting in the moments leading up to a ceasefire, palpably fierce.

I’ve reported from many war zones, in Libya and in Syria, and the threat from mortar rounds that can fall indiscriminately, is chilling. 

As the shelling becomes more intense, we run to get off the street and into a more sheltered area.

This has been the most serious fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh since the 1994 ceasefire, and though there have been violations before, many say fighting has never been this severe.

The foreign ministers of both countries have agreed to a humanitarian ceasefire and as it came into effect, the intense shelling stopped.

But Avaz Mammadov, a farmer whose house was hit by an Armenian mortar recently, isn’t confident about the truce.

 "I don’t believe Armenia will follow the ceasefire," he tells us.

"There’s been a ceasefire before and Armenia has broken it so they don’t follow the ceasefires and you can see the damage with your own eyes," he adds, pointing to the destroyed building behind him.

He lost livestock in the attack and estimates that at least 6,000 euros of damage has been done. 

But he knows he is lucky to be alive. He’d been inside the house when the mortar hit.

He looks mournfully at the damage that’s been done to his home. 

Both sides have suffered military and civilian losses in this conflict. More than 30 Azerbaijanis have been killed.

 In the last few weeks of fighting, Azerbaijan’s second largest city of Ganja was hit.

Azerbaijan’s President, in an address to the nation, said the country is ready to return to talks over Nagorno-Karabakh though will only accept restoration of "full territorial integrity".

He also said that Azerbaijan has shown that it can change the situation on the ground with military means. 

It’s unclear at the moment when talks between both sides will take place and whether they can bring a lasting resolution to this decades-long conflict.  

Teter is a ghost town right now. In the evenings, those who have remained take to the roads and drive with their headlights off.

Homes, schools, restaurants and other infrastructure in the town have all been impacted or destroyed.

Civilians who live here will be hoping this ceasefire holds so that they may hopefully return home and begin to repair the damage that’s been done. 

Source: TRT World