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'I hope we make it back': The young men heading off to fight in Nagorno-Karabakh

Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have mobilised their male populations in response to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have mobilised their male populations in response to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. © Reuters / France 24
Text by: Sam BALL
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Video by: Sam BALL
2 min

As the conflict escalates in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, both Armenia and Azerbaijan have declared martial law and mobilised their male populations. For many young men, it means they will soon be heading to the front lines.

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In Baku, the Azerbaijani capital, on Tuesday, dozens of young men gathered outside a military recruitment centre, eager to enlist in the country's forces fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh.

"I hope that we'll soon give you good news about Karabakh to the sound of Allahu Akbar. May God protect our army, victory is ours," Azerbaijani recruit Aziz Mirzayev told Reuters as he boarded a bus after enlisting in Baku.

There were similar scenes in Armenia's capital Yerevan a few days earlier, as reservist volunteers gathered to heed their country's call to arms.

"Today we, all the people, found ourselves in a difficult situation. We expected Azerbaijan to start a war, lately they've been talking about it all the time with their war rhetoric. And we gathered here to help, to go and support our army," Grigor Barekian, an Armenian volunteer, told AFP.

Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnically Armenian enclave, has been the subject of a decades-long dispute between the two nations. Internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, it has been a de facto independent state since a bloody 6-year war ended in 1994.

The current wave of fighting erupted there on Sunday. Since then, dozens of people, including civilians, have been reported killed and hundreds wounded and rhetoric from both sides has led to fears of all-out war.

"This is a very proud feeling. Of course, as other devoted citizens of the republic, I do not regret going to fulfil this task wholeheartedly and through my own choice," Azerbaijani recruit Mirkamran Hashimli told AFP as he enlisted in Baku.

"I hope Karabakh is ours, it will be ours!"

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