Stepanakert Azerbaijan-At first sight, the city appears to be almost deserted. But underground, in cellars, garages and depots hidden from sight, Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh is fully mobilised to support troops fighting Azerbaijani forces at the front.

As air raid sirens sound for several minutes, warning of the next salvo of rockets or a the imminent arrival of drones, a textiles factory tucked into the side of mountains that dominate the city is quietly at work.

A few cars are parked nearby, indicating some activity. Men in civilian clothes -- sometimes with a parka or camouflage trousers -- and others in full uniform are coming and going as discreetly as possible.

To a casual observer, the building might seem to be lying idle. But while the upper floors are empty, people are working hard in the vast basement.

First-aid workers and nurses are busy cleaning khaki stretchers, presumably to evacuate wounded fighters. The litters are stowed away in four old Soviet-era UAZ vans from the local emergency services, ready to leave for the front. In a storeroom, dozens of boxes are piled up: coffee, bars of chocolate, cigarettes and other supplies collected in the Armenian capital Yerevan and other cities, destined for front-line soldiers.

Lying on the ground are dozens of pickaxe handles, brand-new shovels still in their wrapping, vital tools for positions where sandbags must be filled for protection.

Further inside, in a large neon-lit hangar, about 10 people are busy behind two rows of sewing machines.

They used to work on the upper floors, says Sanasar Tevonyan, using a ruler and pencil to trace a pattern on green camouflage fabric.

“We came down to the basement a week ago to take shelter from the bombs that were starting to rain down.”