Khojaly was a city in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region that had been majority Azerbaijani since before the Soviet Union with more than seven thousand residents.
On the backdrop of increasing violence due to the Karabakh conflict, Khojali and other ethnic-Azerbaijani-Turkic cities in Nagorno-Karabakh found themselves under increasing danger. Through the winter of 91-92 there was intense shelling of the city as Armenian and Azerbaijani forces attempted to establish control over the region. In February of 1992 Armenian forces managed to completely blockade Khojaly and on the 26th they began their operation to capture the city. As a large column of residents, accompanied by a few dozen militia fled across the snowy mountains they were, were cruelly fired upon from an Armenian military post near the Azerbaijani front. These acts resulted in the reported deaths of 600 people and injury and imprisonment of many hundreds more. The Karabakh conflict of the 90s saw cruel acts committed by Soviet, Armenian and Azerbaijani forces which tore apart the intertwined societies. Khojali stands as the largest massacre during the conflict.
Despite attempts to downplay, rewrite, and shift the blame of the Khojaly Massacre, by even the Armenian Government, Human Rights and other international organizations have reaffirmed that Armenian and 366th CIS regiment forces deliberately disregarded customary law of restraint in their attacks on civilians and were responsible for the massacre.
Today Khojali stands as a reminder and scar of the atrocities of the 90’s. Twelve nations and nineteen US states recognize the event as a massacre which plays an important part in global understanding of the Karabakh conflict. With the conclusion of the 2020 conflict there is now an opportunity for the remaining IDPs of the city to return to their homes. The region is currently under the monitoring of Russian Peacekeeping forces and will require international efforts to ensure that the population can return, rebuild, and create peace with their neighbors.
You can learn more about the events in the documentary Endless Corridor.