From Max Sivaslian's Karabakh diary . . .
I returned to meet with Armenians; this time, it seemed, they were more quiet. A girl who was taken prisoner by Azeris a few days ago (Turks were bragging about it by radio) was found in one of the captured sentry posts with her head and breasts cut off. Hatred was so great that Azeris began mutilating dead bodies. According to them, Armenians were also cutting off heads of deceased Azeris. I was angry with such treatment but the boys explained to me: “We learnt it from Turks. It’s very good as thanks to that they are afraid of us.”
During the day Armenian artillery weapons were very quickly placed next to Drmbon headquarters very close to lake. In the evening at 18:00 o’clock shells were taken out of the weapons.
March 3, Wednesday
In front of Drmbon two trucks full of infantrymen were preparing to make their way towards the front line, to a dam. This time forcing myself I was openly getting into the cab of the first truck, next to the driver. We were moving towards Alashan for bringing bread for troops. Then we were driving along the shore of Sarsang Lake passing through Drmbon, Getavan, Haterk and Umadlu. Within three hours we reached the front. The road from Alashan on foot through mountains takes only two hours. We reached the sentry post. There were 40 of us. The situation was calm. We must have moved to the other side of the bridge. There were my friends Karineh and Sanasan watching the artillery weapon.
We quickly said hello to each other as it was necessary to reach the other side of the bridge very quickly because Azeris were in front of us on the hill. On the opposite slope we noticed a huge board with Lenin portrayed on it. On the right side of the board there was a broken military vehicle with a broken battery. Numerous fidais were trying to get this large-tonnage caterpillar vehicle moving or at least place it under the shade. In 20 minutes we walked along the road opposite to Azeris. We passed by a burnt bus and boxes of ammunition (ammunition for Kalashnikov, which Azeris left. They were almost useless and spoilt by Azeris as Armenians could have used them); these were traces of the day before battle. As always without maintaining discipline and distance between each person and group, about 30 fidais one after another were moving forward. A perfect column, I realized, a snake in a uniform, which was a dangerous target for Turks. We covered another kilometer hiding under the shadow fallen between two hills. Armenian militaries were guarding one of the tops of these hills. So the Turks were most likely 100 meters away.
Positions captured yesterday hadn’t been strengthened yet. They were neither trenches nor shelters; they were simply freshly dug pits where only two or three people could find room. Others had to hide behind trees or the slope.
At its full range Azeris opened fire at the positions located on the left of the sentry post. We even saw a tank, which fired and then moved back standing behind the weapon emplacement under the shadow then it again appeared, opened fire and moved back to its position.
The fire was over our heads. If only they didn’t fire with trench mortars. Shells of trench mortar always come from above crashing obliquely. In that case the instinct of protecting your head with hands looks ridiculous as it is a gesture which cannot save a poor man in the pit.
Not far away on the road there were bodies of five dead Azeris killed the day before. Woolen collars of their big military uniform were robbed. Those who were not too much superstitious sewn on only crescent on the green background (Azeris’ colors), which decorated the uniforms they wore. Armenians also searched their pockets, however, they did it only out of interest as those, who died here, couldn’t have had anything valuable in their purses made of imitation leather. There was a photograph of a woman and children on the carpet of dried up leaves. For sure Azeris did the same with killed Armenian people, who also had photographs and which were also somewhere on this muddy ground. Pocket contents were not interesting at all comparing with five Kalashnikov submachine-guns and one machine gun, which presented attributes of this war and when occasion offers could be sold in Yerevan.
1993, March 3
Recently restored emplacement on the hill of Platin sentry post
We heard conversation of Turks, who were very close to our group; probably they were organizing an attack. Four scouts went to find out what was going on, however, they were Azeris, who simply came to take bodies of their killed countrymen.
It was a late hour for attack. Twelve of forty, fifty soldiers, who were here under the shadow of trees, decided to return to Alashan military base. I had no desire to sleep on the carpet of wet leaves. Tired of such nights I decided to follow that group of 12 soldiers. It took about two hours by walking between hills for reaching the place. The night had come. We spent little time walking when we heard the noise made by submachine and machine guns that came from the position we had left. We stood for five minutes thinking fighting was likely to start but shooting soon stopped. Returning was useless.
Only the next day we knew that fire was opened by Armenians. Militaries were firing at Azeris, who came to take bodies of their soldiers.
(click on photos for enlarged view)