Bloomberg: Azeri Spy Drone Downed Over Disputed Region, Karabakh Arm

By Zulfugar Agayev

Sept 14 2011

Nagorno-Karabakh, a region that broke away from Azerbaijan after the
collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, said it shot down an unmanned
Azeri drone over its territory on Sept. 12.

The unmanned aircraft was downed to prevent similar reconnaissance
flights over the disputed area, which have become more frequent
along the border in recent days, the Karabakh Defense Army said in
a statement on its website today.

Eldar Sabiroglu, the head of the Azeri Defense Ministry’s press
service, and Teymur Abdullayev, a spokesman at the ministry, didn’t
answer phone calls today seeking comment.

Oil-exporting Azerbaijan is using energy income to acquire modern
weaponry, including unmanned planes from Israel, with whom the Caspian
Sea nation started joint production of drones, President Ilham Aliyev
said in April. Today’s incident marks the first time an Azeri spy plane
has ever been shot down over the majority-Armenian populated region.

The Azeri Defense Ministry has previously not denied Armenian media
reports that some of the drones produced with Israel are being used
to monitor Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijan and landlocked Armenia fought a war over the region
that left tens of thousands of people dead and more than 1 million
displaced. The territory remains a potential flashpoint in a region
where Russia in 2008 fought a five-day war with Georgia after
separatist tensions flared up.

Russia, which borders the countries along with Iran, Turkey and
Georgia, brokered a cease-fire in 1994. Talks on a final settlement,
mediated by Russia, the U.S. and France, have failed to produce a
binding agreement.