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Azerbaijan Says Airspace Over Nagorno-Karabakh Closed

  • RFE/RL

Azerbaijan has warned that the airspace over its breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region is closed after the Azerbaijani military shot down a helicopter belonging to the ethnic Armenian-controlled territory's forces.

In a statement issued on November 12, after the Azerbaijani military said it had shot down the helicopter, the Foreign Ministry said that "Azerbaijan has declared its airspace closed over the occupied territories" -- Baku's term for Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas held by separatists since a war that ended with a shaky cease-fire in 1994.

The statement said Azerbaijan had informed all member-states in the International Civil Aviation Organization of the closure.

The top civil aviation official in the self-proclaimed government of Nagoro-Karabakh, Dmitry Adbashian, dismissed the statement in comments to the Russian news agency Interfax, saying the airspace had purportedly been closed since the war.

Azerbaijan said the helicopter was shot down as it “attempted to open fire” on Azerbaijani forces, and that its three crew members were killed.

The Nagorno-Karabakh "self-defense" forces said the helicopter was on a training mission, and Armenia’s Defense Ministry called the incident an "unprecedented provocation" by Azerbaijan.