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26 Oct, 2020 18:50

Turkish F-16s in Azerbaijan are not currently involved in fighting but will be used if there is ‘foreign aggression,’ says Baku

Turkish F-16s in Azerbaijan are not currently involved in fighting but will be used if there is ‘foreign aggression,’ says Baku

Azerbaijan will use Turkish F-16 fighter jets to defend itself from “foreign aggression,” President Ilham Aliyev said on Monday, insisting that the planes were in the country prior to the recent fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh.

F-16s are supersonic fighter aircraft built in the US by Lockheed Martin. In recent years, the jets have been used extensively, by Ankara, in battles with Kurdish insurgents, as well as in the Syrian Civil War. Famously, in 2015, a Turkish F-16 shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 near the Syrian-Turkish border.

According to Aliyev, the planes are currently sitting idle in Azerbaijan and are not taking part in the war against Armenia.

“I am often asked: what are the Turkish F-16s doing here?” Aliyev told state TV channel AzTV. “If you have satellites, then take a look, and you'll see that they are on the ground, and not in the sky.”

Also on rt.com Another Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire fails: Warring parties trade bitter accusations over who violated latest US-brokered truce

The Turkish planes arrived in Azerbaijan for military drills before the war over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory began, and were left in the country “for moral support,” said the Azerbaijani president, who did not rule out that they would be used in case of outside aggression.

Throughout the recent flare-up of violence, Yerevan has accused Ankara of helping out the Azerbaijanis. On Sunday, the Prosecutor General's Office in Armenia claimed that Turkish regular and reserve army units are stationed in Azerbaijan and have been taking part in the war effort.

“According to data received, Turkish special forces soldiers have directly taken part in the fighting,” the office reported.

On Sunday, Armenia and Azerbaijan reached an agreement for a third ceasefire, after the first two failed just moments after they came into force. Once again, the deal to stop the fighting lasted mere minutes, with both sides claiming the other violated the deal.

The recent battle for control over Nagorno-Karabakh has decades-old roots, with both Azerbaijan and Armenia believing they have strong claims over the territory. The region is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but it is populated by ethnic Armenians. Baku considers the enclave to be illegally occupied by Armenia.

The latest bout of fighting began on September 27, with both countries accusing each other of using military force. Since 1992, negotiations on a peaceful settlement of the conflict have been led by the OSCE Minsk Group, which has three co-chairs: Russia, the United States, and France.

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