Artsakh after the occupation of Azerbaijan. part 1: Hadrut

Hayk Hovhannisyan, #CivilNetCheck

Recently, information has been spreading about the cultural destruction in various Artsakh communities, which came under Azerbaijan’s control. By studying satellite images, #CivilNetCheck highlights the destruction in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The first article of this series focuses on the villages in Hadrut region.

In 2020, as a result of the second Artsakh war, 121 Nagorno Karabakh communities came under the control of Azerbaijan, including more than 50 communities from the territory of the former Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Region (NKR).

On September 19, 2023, as a result of Azerbaijan’s large-scale attack and complete ethnic cleansing, Nagorno-Karabakh came under Azerbaijani control.

The villages of Hadrut region

According to the 2015 census, the total population of Hadrut region was 12,000. Satellite photos document that after 2020, 23 of Hadrut’s 45 communities were seriously damaged, some – completely destroyed.

The city of Hadrut was also partially destroyed, in addition to several neighborhoods in the southwest of the city. Some of the houses were damaged in the first two weeks of the 44-day war, as a result of artillery fire and deliberate arson by the Azerbaijani armed forces.

The destruction of the southwest of Hadrut. June 2020 / September 2023

Houses in the southern and northern districts of the city were damaged or destroyed after the end of the war, too, while under Azerbaijani control. Mainly, the roofs of the houses were dismantled, presumably taken as building materials. Some houses were completely demolished, some were renovated and inhabited. Azerbaijanis also destroyed the central library of Hadrut, founded in 1932.

The destruction of the southwest of Hadrut. June 2020 / September 2023

In the northern part of Hadrut, on the right side of the road entering the city, several residential houses were demolished, instead a mosque is being built in the area. In one of the reports of the Azerbaijani ITV TV channel, the journalist says that 150 houses in “emergency condition” in the city of Hadrut will be demolished.

The mosque under construction in Hadrut. 27.04. 2024, source: ITV

According to satellite images, there were no destructions or serious damages in Tyak, Vank, Taghaser, Vardashat, Karmrakuch villages, nor in the the Kyuratagh, Ukhtadzor, Aknaghbyur, Pletants, Tsaghkavank, Melikashen villages in the northeast of the region. In Aygestan village, east of Hadrut, Azerbaijanis demolished several houses to widen the road passing through the village, as well as damaged the Spitak Khach monastery of Vank village (not to be confused with Vank village of Martakert region, where the famous Gandzasar monastery is located).

Hadrut city and surrounding villages. Damaged communities in red, undamaged communities in green

Arakel community, located in the southernmost part of Nagorno-Karabakh, includesArakel, Saralanj, Dzoragyugh, Karaglukh villages. The Azerbaijanis damaged about half of the three dozen residential buildings that had remained undamaged during the war. A monument-cross stone was also destroyed in the village.

Destruction of the houses of the village of Arakel. June 2020 / September 2023

In Dzoragyugh village, which is part of the Arakel community, most of the dozens of houses standing before the war were damaged or destroyed. The villages of Karaglukh and Saralanj were hardly damaged. St. Hovhannes church in Karagalukh was also not damaged externally.

The destruction of houses in Dzoragyugh village of the Arakel community. June 2020 / September 2023

IThe Banadzor community had been damaged back in the first Artsakh war, and villages were mostly filled with the ruins of uninhabited houses. After the 2020 war, Azerbaijanis dismantled the roofs of some residential houses in Banadzor and Tsor villages. According to the satellite images, the Church of Saint Amenaprkich in Tsor has not been damaged.

The state of Tsor and Banadzor villages in August 2023

Tsamdzor, Sarishen, Khandazdzor, Hin Tagher and Arevshat villages, located in the east of Hadrut region, were not destroyed, which cannot be said about the Khtsaberd and Mokhrenes villages.

The Khtsaberd community came under Azerbaijani control after the end of the 44-day war, on December 12, 2020, when Azerbaijani armed forces, violating the ceasefire agreement captured the Khtsaberd, Arpagetik, Spitakashen villages, as well as Hin Tagher.

Khtsaberd is now mostly destroyed. Several buildings and the village school remain standing. The rest of the houses have seriously been damaged or completely destroyed.

Destruction of houses in Khtsaberd village. October 2020 / September 2023

The homes in Arpagetik (Karing) and Spitakashe villages in the Khtsaberd community were partially demolished, the roofs were removed.

The condition of Spitakashen and Arpagetik villages in August 2023

Azerbaijan razed to the ground Mokhrenes village, northwest of Hadrut. Satellite photos document that only seven of the more than five dozen houses in the village remain standing.

The complete destruction of Mokhrenes village. June 2020 / September 2023

Satellite images from the Sentinel-Hub website document that large-scale demolition of houses in the village was carried out from April 2022 to Fall 2022.

Complete destruction of Mokhrenes village during 2022

The “Heydar Aliyev Foundation” announced in May 2024 that “church restoration works” are being carried out in the village of Mokhrenes (Susanlıq). Referring to the 18th-19th century St. Sargis Church of the village, which was partially demolished by Azerbaijan in April 2022. Satellite photos from April 2024 show that a new, carrot-colored roof was placed on the church. The Azerbaijani side has not made any statement about the demolition of Mokhrenes village, and it is unknown what is planned to be done there.

The neighboring villages of Mokhrenes, Togh and Taghut, were also seriously damaged. Fresh satellite photos document that the Azerbaijanis damaged around five dozen houses in two villages.

Destruction of houses in Taghut and Togh villages. June 2020 / September 2023

Armen Ghukasyan, head of Taghut community, told #CivilNetCheck that in 2020, the houses of the villages were burned by the Azerbaijani servicemen immediately after being captured.

The village of Tumi, which came under Azerbaijani control on October 23, 2020, was also affected. Most of the buildings in the village were seriously damaged, some by war operations, and some by Azerbaijanis following the end of the war.

The destruction of houses in the village of Tumi during 2021

According to the latest satellite photos, the villages of Tsakuri and Jrakus, located east of Togh village, were almost undamaged. However, the Azerbaijanis partially destroyed or damaged dozens of buildings in the Mariamadzor village located between those two villages.

Destruction of houses in Mariamadzor village. June 2020 / September 2023

Three villages in the northern part of Hadrut region were the most affected: Mets Tagher (Taghlar), Azokh and Drakhtik. Azerbaijanis built a new, wide road through Mets Tagher, demolishing more than 30 houses. A few dozen houses, which are not related to the construction of the new road, were completely or partially demolished in 2021-23.

Partial destruction of Mets Tagher village. June 2020 / September 2023

Azerbaijan also destroyed the Mets Tagher cemetery and the bridge built in 1890 for the construction of the so-called “Victory Road” connecting Fizuli to Shushi.

Destruction of the cemetery of Mets Tagher village. June 2020 / September 2023

Although Azerbaijan did not build a new road through the neighboring villages of Azokh and Drakhtik, more than 35 buildings were partially or completely damaged in the two villages. In addition, the monuments dedicated to the memory of the Great Patriotic and Artsakh wars, as well as the Armenian Genocide were destroyed in Azokh.

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