This graphic combat footage was filmed on the Armenian Azerbaijani border. Although the region was recently engulfed in a renewed conflict between both sides, this footage was filmed in 2017 when Arshak Zakaryan, his cameraman Davit and a military escort came under sniper fire as they were en route to film a military documentary.

The group became pinned down by sustained sniper fire that can be heard coming closer and closer until Davit is hit by a bullet through both legs. The ordeal lasted over three and a half hours, this is a segment of the most intense part. I admire his optimism regarding his gunshot wound: “It could have been worse”.

The cameraman hit with the sniper round took his injury very well. He stayed calm and composed. However, being shot could possibly have been avoided had he listened to the advice of his highly composed Armenian military escort who was calmly laying down covering fire with his Kalashnikov until help arrived.

The military escort made his objective criteria clear and advised him where to take cover in order to make it harder to kill them. Despite the escort communicating threats to the cameraman concerning the bend in the road, he went Maverik and was subsequently shot.

They broke both of my legs, but fuck ’em.

– Davit

Another faux par in the video is the cameraman wearing military fatigues despite being in a journalist role. This is something I’ve personally seen being done by independent journalists in Donbass, Eastern Ukraine.

Armenian Journalist Pinned Down and Shot by Azeri Sniper on Camera

When gunmen on the opposite front line see a camouflage-clad figure in their kill zone they will shoot first and ask questions later. Non-combatants wearing camouflage on an active front line is a beginner’s error if I ever saw one. But regardless, like most Armenians I have met, Davit is one tough man.

Why are Armenian and Azerbaijani forces fighting?

The countries of Armenia and Azerbaijan both have long-running differences that range from religion and ethnicity to politics. Azerbaijan is populated largely by Turkic Muslims which makes it a close ally of Turkey. Armenia is populated largely by Orthodox Christians and as such are more aligned to Russia and other Orthodox countries.

Armenian Journalist Pinned Down and Shot by Azeri Sniper on Camera
An Armenian soldier fires artillery during the renewed Nagorno Karabakh conflict in 2020. Photo credit: the Armenian Defence Ministry.

When the Soviet Union came along, they divided the territory between the Azerbaijani and Armenian populations, and through their oppressive nature, they kept a lid on ethnic tensions. However, they unwittingly planted the seed for future conflicts as they did in other parts of the USSR such as Donbass, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Transnistria.

The modern conflict between Armenian people and Azerbaijani nations stems from a region called Nagorno-Karabakh. During the collapse of the Soviet Union, the strategic region of Nagorno-Karabakh was claimed by both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Around the same time, the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh had held a referendum boycotted by Azerbaijan where the people chose independence instead of joining either of the two countries.

Armenian Journalist Pinned Down and Shot by Azeri Sniper on Camera
An elderly Armenian woman in Nagorno Karabakh with a Kalashnikov.

Nagorno Karabakh was populated by equally large numbers of both Armenian and Azerbaijani people. As the situation worsened, both sides accused the other of calling for the ethnic cleansing of the other side within Nagorno Karabakh. This led to the large Armenian population voting to join Armenia and subsequently led to a civil war that killed thousands of people displaced many more.

Related Combat Footage

By the spring of 1994, Russia had stepped in to negotiate a ceasefire and ethnically Armenian controlled Nagorno Karabakh became one of the four frozen conflict zones that are dotted across the former Soviet Union (the others being Transnistria, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia).

Armenian Journalist Pinned Down and Shot by Azeri Sniper on Camera

However, Azerbaijan still claims that the territory of Nagorno Karabakh is theirs and since then there has been a string of violence and ceasefire violations such as the one in this video and the conflict that raged towards the end of 2020 that again killed thousands and displaced many more.

For unfiltered, uncensored combat footage from the heart of human conflict around the world be sure to check out the Reaper Feed Combat Footage department. For our on the ground reportage from global warzones check out our Frontline Dispatch articles.

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Batya (Батя) is the founder of Reaper Feed. He is a security advisor and a high-risk expedition leader across former and active conflict zones such as Eastern Ukraine, unrecognized post-Soviet states, the North Caucasus, and the Middle East. Batya founded Reaper Feed to provide unprecedented insight into the lesser-seen sides of human conflict and modern warfare.