The Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC) has called on the Canadian government to ban the sale of military drones to the Turkish government after reports that Ankara deployed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to help Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia.
Forbes reported on Monday that footage from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) released by Azerbaijan showed an interface identical to the TB2 Bayraktar UCAV drone used by Turkey. Baykar, the company that makes the drones, is owned by one of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s sons-in-law.
Fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces continued into a fourth day on Wednesday, with Armenia saying that one of its fighter jets had been shot down by Turkey.
According to Armenia’s Defence Ministry, a Turkish F-16 fighter jet based in Azerbaijan shot down an Armenian Su-25 close ground support aircraft inside Armenian airspace, killing the pilot.
Sevag Belian, executive director of the ANCC, called on the Canadian government to “immediately halt all Canadian military aid to Turkey.”
Using the area’s Armenian name, Belian said, “The attack is a pre-planned war against the peaceful civilians of Artsakh. Recent public statements also indicate that the attacks are being carried out in cooperation with the Republic of Turkey. We require a stern condemnation of Azerbaijan’s actions.”
Fahrettin Altun, Turkey’s presidential communications director, stated that the accusation that an Armenian plane had been shot down by a Turkish jet was “absolutely untrue”, and a “cheap propaganda trick”, according to The Independent.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said on Tuesday that Turkey was not a party to the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh in an interview with a Russian state broadcaster. He said that allegations about the downing of an Armenian plane by Turkey were incorrect, as no F-16 planes were deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh. He also rejected claims that Syrian fighters were being sent by Turkey to fight for Azerbaijan.
However, Turkey pledged to support Azerbaijan with ‘all its means’ on Sunday, in a phone call between President Erdoğan and President Aliyev. The two countries have carried out joint military exercises together in the past two months, and Defence Minister Hulusi Akar has visited Azerbaijan to improve defence and security coordination.
The Guardian also reported on Monday that Syrian rebel fighters had “signed up to work for a private Turkish security company as border guards in Azerbaijan”. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said around 300 fighters from Syria have been deployed to Azerbaijan.
It seems likely that Turkey will have to clarify the nature of its involvement in helping the Azerbaijani military. Forbes’ investigation into the Turkish origin of Azerbaijan’s drones raised the possibility of “whether Turkish military personnel are operating the Bayraktar drones in support of the Azerbaijani military.”
Forbes warned that “The more direct Turkey’s involvement, the greater the risks of heightened conflict between Armenia and Turkey.”