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Azerbaijan using Israeli 'kamikaze' drones in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Azerbaijan imports 60 percent of its arms from Israel [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 October, 2020

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An Azeri official has hailed the 'highly effective' Israeli drones.
Azerbaijan is using Israeli "kamikaze" drones in the conflict with Armenian forces in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, an official said on Wednesday.

Baku sources the majority of its arms from Israel, which imports around 40 percent of its oil from Azerbaijan - one of few Muslim-majority countries to have developed bilateral ties with the Jewish state.

The reignited Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is one of few disputes then where Israel and Turkey find themselves on allied sides, backing Azerbaijan in the war over the mountain region which has been governed by an Armenian-backed autonomous administration since the late 1980s.

Turkish-sources drones are also deployed by the Azeri military in Nagorno-Karabakh.

On Wednesday, a foreign policy advisor to Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev confirmed the country was using Israeli drones in its fight with Armenia.

The Harop drones, nicknamed "kamikaze" as the drone is itself a munition rather than carrying armed explosives, are manufactured by Israel's state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

Azerbaijan was the first country to deploy the drones in combat in 2016, when the Harop drones were used to target Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh amid a flare-up in violence.

Read more: Armenia and Azerbaijan: a decades-long bloody rivalry

Germany, Turkey, India, Singapore and Israel also operate the "kamikaze" drones.

The Israeli drones have "proved themselves very effective" since the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict reignited on Sunday, Hikmet Hajiyev told Axios. Hajiyev is a foreign policy advisor to the Azeri president.
[Click to enlarge]


"If Armenia is scared of the drones that Azerbaijan is using it should stop its occupation," he said.

Commenting on Armenian claims a Turkish fighter jet had shot down an Armenian military plane, Hajiyev said Azeri military radars showed two Armenian planes crashing into a mountain rather than being shot down.

Both Baku and Ankara have fiercely rejected claims of direct Turkish involvement in the conflict. 

Turkey is a key ally of Azerbaijan due to the countries' close cultural and linguistic ties. 

Ankara has in recent days demanded Armenia end its "occupation" of the disputed region and condemned Western nations for allegedly siding with Yerevan.

Nagorno-Karabakh is populated by a majority of ethnic Armenians but is located within Azerbaijan's borders; its status has been disputed since the late '80s, when ethnic Armenian residents of the region called for a union with Armenia. 

The conflict erupted into a full-scale war between 1992 and 1994 but a ceasefire had kept clashes largely at bay until this year.

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