Russian military helicopter shot down over Armenia near Azerbaijan border, two killed

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A Russian Mi-24 helicopter was downed over Armenia near the border with Azerbaijan, killing two crew members and injuring another, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday.

"A Russian Mi-24 helicopter came under fire from the ground from a man-portable air-defense system when accompanying a vehicle convoy of the 102nd Russian military base on the territory of Armenia in the airspace close to the Armenian settlement of Yeraskh near the border with the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (Azerbaijan)," the defense ministry said in a statement, according to state news agency TASS.

The ministry did not clarify the purpose of the convoy the helicopter was accompanying. Russia has a large military base in Armenia, but it is about 150 kilometers (90 miles) from where the helicopter was shot down.

Nakhchivan is about 70 kilometers (40 miles) from Nagorno-Karabakh and it was not clear if the helicopter shootdown was connected with the conflict.

Armenian and Azerbaijani forces have been fighting for six weeks over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The region lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a war there ended in 1994. The latest outburst of hostilities began September 27 and has left hundreds — perhaps thousands — dead, marking the worst escalation of fighting since the war’s end.

Azerbaijan has relied on strong support from its ally Turkey, which has trained Azerbaijani military and provided it with strike drones and long-range rocket systems.

Armenian officials accuse Turkey of being directly involved in the conflict and sending mercenaries from Syria to fight on Azerbaijan’s side.

- With AP

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