For 22 years the region known as Nagorno-Karabakh, a 3700 square-mile independent, mostly Armenian area nestled inside Azerbaijan, has remained relatively peaceful. A brutal war there from 1988-1994 during the dissolution of the former Soviet Union left somnolent scars in a place known as a “frozen conflict” zone in the diplomatic world. Tension between Turkey and Russia over the Syrian refugee crisis may have thawed that fragile peace as war erupted for five days in April. Families fled. The prime minister called contractual soldiers to Stepanakert for deployment instructions. Secretary of State John Kerry called for restraint.

Anush Babajanyan, a photojournalist from Armenia and a member of the 4Plus collective, traveled to Nagorno-Karabakh by minibus to cover the conflict. She found a soldier returning to war on the bus as well as families who were forced to leave, frustrated and scared. Official tallies claimed that 18 Armenians and 12 Azeris died before a shaky agreement was reached. “The people expected the military to hit military posts, not a village” says Babajanyan. “There is no question that these people will fight for their land.”

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