Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: Armenia shoots down drones near capital


Armenia's Armed Forces have suffered more than 550 casualties in renewed fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, claims Azerbaijan's military.

On Thursday, Erdogan said the OSCE Minsk Group which is responsible for negotiating a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has no right to call for a ceasefire, and said that the organisation should demand that Armenia put an end to its "occupation" of the breakaway Azerbaijani region instead.

Azerbaijan, which is fighting ethnic Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh, has not responded to a call for a ceasefire on Thursday by France, the United States and Russian Federation - co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) watchdog's Minsk Group which mediates in the crisis. Azerbaijani officials previously acknowledged five deaths and 19 injuries as a result of Armenian shelling.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged Baku to continue to pursue its offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh. "I am sure that this can not but worry the worldwide community", the Armenian Prime Minister said. Both Turkey and Azerbaijan quickly denied the claim. Ankara was giving only moral support, he insisted.

Fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces erupted Sunday over a longstanding territorial dispute centering around Karabakh.

"The United States condemns in the strongest terms the violence along the Armenia-Azerbaijan global border", State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a July statement.

The UN Security Council is scheduled to hold an emergency talks, privately, late Tuesday after pushing France and Germany to include the matter on the agenda.

Canada is probing allegations that Azeri forces involved in fighting with Armenia are using Canadian drone technology that was initially exported to Turkey, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday.

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Armenian and Azerbaijani forces are now engaged in the heaviest fighting in years over Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian province that broke away from Azerbaijan in the 1990s during the collapse of the Soviet Union.

An Armenian defence ministry spokeswoman said the Armenian Sukhoi Su-25 warplane had been on a military assignment when it was downed by an F-16 fighter jet owned by the Turkish air force.

Putin reiterated the need for an immediate ceasefire.

Soldiers backed by Armenia occupy the region as well as some Azerbaijani territory outside of it.

The Nagorno-Karabakh clashes have the potential to draw in larger powers - in particular Russian Federation and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member Turkey, two countries that already support opposing sides in Syria and Libya. Azerbaijan said references to drones were misinformation. It was not clear if the reported civilian death was from that incident. "Hopefully this year will be the last", he said.

According to Nagorno-Karabakh officials, 59 servicemen on their side have been killed so far.

"Our contracts are for three months, and every month we will be getting paid by the unit commander", he said, adding that he didn't know who was funding the operation.

Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan in a 1991-94 war that killed 30,000 people, but is not recognised internationally as an independent republic. Both countries declared martial law and mobilization.