Armenia's defense chief says his country will retaliate against "any provocation by Azerbaijan from now on" following the downing of a helicopter by Azerbaijani forces near the breakaway territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Defense Minister Seiran Ohanian spoke on November 22, after authorities in the de facto government of self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic said commandos had recovered the bodies of the three crew members killed when the Mi-24 helicopter was shot down on November 12.
Ohanian said that the "Armenian Defense Army will step up service" on the Line of Contact with Azerbaijani forces deployed east and north of Nagorno-Karabakh in order to monitor Azerbaijani troops and "destroy" any that attempt to attack its positions.
Armenian-backed separatists seized mainly Armenian-populated Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan during a war in the early 1990s that killed some 30,000 people.
Diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict have brought little progress, and a series of deadly skirmishes over the summer raised fears of a full-scale war.