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Azerbaijan and Armenia war thread


Dec 20, 2017
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Staff member
Nov 17, 2017
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Are Syrian Mercenaries Helping Azerbaijan Fight For Nagorno-Karabakh?

October 15, 2020


Free Syrian Army fighters inspect damaged cars after a car bomb in Azaz, Syria, in September 2018.

Despite continued reports of Syrian mercenaries fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh after weeks of fighting over the breakaway region, Baku and Ankara deny reports that Turkey has recruited militants from Syria to fight for Azerbaijan.

The first reports about Syrian militants being sent to help Azerbaijan emerged in late September.

They came from correspondents for international news organizations like Reuters and the BBC, as well as British newspapers like The Guardian and The Independent, who tapped into sources they'd developed during years of covering Syria's war.

All had interviews with veterans of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (SNA), who described being recruited by a private Turkish firm to work in Azerbaijan.

Most declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, saying they either feared reprisals or risked losing their pay.

But multiple sources from the SNA have told different Western news organizations they were promised pay ranging from $1,200 to $2,000 per month for work in Azerbaijan.

They shared similar stories -- saying they were told they would serve "guard duty" at Azerbaijani oil facilities or at demarcation posts along the Line of Contact that had separated Azerbaijani and Armenian forces before the latest fighting erupted in the region on September 27.

Reuters quoted fighters from Turkish-backed rebel groups in northern Syria as saying they had deployed to Azerbaijan in coordination with Ankara, although Reuters said it could not verify that claim.

"I didn't want to go, but I don't have any money. Life is very hard and poor," one militant, who had previously fought in Syria for the Turkish-backed Ahrar al-Sham faction, told Reuters.

Syrian militants were soon being quoted saying they regretted taking the job in Azerbaijan because they'd been sent straight to front-line positions in the midst of an intense battle, as hundreds of soldiers have been killed in the hostilities that started on September 27.

After more than a week of fighting, reports then began to emerge from Syria about the bodies of dozens of slain Syrian fighters being repatriated from Azerbaijan.

Competing Claims
Armenia's ambassador to Russia, Vardan Toganian, told Russia's RIA Novosti state news agency in late September that Turkey had redeployed 4,000 Syrian militants to fight on the side of Azerbaijan.

Even independent experts who find merit in reports about Syrian mercenaries in Azerbaijan say Toganian's figure appeared to be an exaggeration.

But within days, French President Emmanuel Macron, Iranian President Hassan Rohani, and Russian intelligence officials all issued statements supporting the allegation that Syrian mercenaries were fighting for Azerbaijan. None provided evidence to substantiate the claims.

"We now have information which indicates that Syrian fighters from jihadist groups have [transited] through Gaziantep [in southeastern Turkey] to reach the Nagorno-Karabakh theater of operations," Macron told reporters at an EU summit in Brussels on October 1. "It is a very serious new fact which changes the situation."

Rohani said the same "Syrian terrorist groups" that Iran had fought for years while supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime were reportedly turning up at the Iranian border near the southern flank of the battle around Nagorno-Karabakh's main city, Stepanakert.

Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), even warned that the conflict could turn the region into "a new launching pad for international terrorist organizations" to enter Russia and other nearby countries.

On October 6, Naryshkin said the conflict was attracting people he described as mercenaries and terrorists from the Middle East. "We are talking about hundreds and already even thousands of radicals hoping to earn money in a new Karabakh war," he said.

Turkish and Azerbaijani officials have ridiculed such claims.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan noted that France and Russia -- both members of the OSCE's Minsk Group for negotiations on resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh issue -- have supported the Armenian side with weapons, although the Turkish leader neglected to mention that Russia also has sold weaponry to Azerbaijan.

"You remain silent in the face of all this support, but you tell Azerbaijan: 'You sent Syrian fighters there,'" Erdogan said on October 14. The Syrians "have work to do in their own country. They won't go there."

Hikmat Haciyev, an aide to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, said that "rumors of militants from Syria allegedly being redeployed to Azerbaijan are another provocation by the Armenian side and complete nonsense."

Turkish European Union Affairs Minister Omer Celik called such reports "lies" spread by Armenia "to cover up their own hostility and to try to create an umbrella of dark propaganda over Turkey."

Meanwhile, the Turkish Defense Ministry has claimed, without proof, that Armenia is aided by fighters from the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), who have fought an insurgency against Turkey for decades.

'No War Is Winnable': Obstacles To Peace Over Nagorno-Karabakh

'Just Gossip, No Evidence'
Most Azerbaijanis also view reports about Syrian fighters in their country as unproven. They dismiss the allegations as part of a disinformation campaign aimed at discrediting Azerbaijan.

Baku-based human rights activist Anar Mammadli refuses to believe Sunni militants from the Turkish-backed SNA would join troops from predominantly Shi'ite Azerbaijan to fight a "war in Karabakh."

"There is no concrete fact about Turkey's military support except political support to Azerbaijan," Mammadli tweeted when such stories began to emerge. "By such manipulation at the expense of unconfirmed and unknown sources, they try to dress the conflict in religious clothes."

Azerbaijani freelance journalist Seymur Kazimov told RFE/RL recently from the conflict zone that "rumors there are Syrians fighting on our side are untrue. There is no evidence."

He said the "scandal" was started by one foreign journalist who "wrote an article based on one guy -- no name, no pictures. Nothing. No one verified this."

"Even for me as a journalist, it's impossible to get this information," Kazimov argued, claiming there hadn't been any killed or wounded Syria mercenaries on the Azerbaijani side.

"Like, OK, guys. If you have some evidence, share it with us," Kazimov said. "Nothing. Just gossip. It's not serious stuff."

Syrian Body Bags
In fact, even as Kazimov described the situation from his point of view of covering the conflict, fresh details were emerging from Syria and Turkey about the bodies of more than 50 slain mercenaries being returned to Syria after being killed by Armenian artillery barrages.

Reports in The Guardian and The Independent newspapers spoke of distraught relatives in Syria receiving their bodies, and SNA fighters there launching an anti-recruitment campaign to dissuade other Syrian militants from signing contracts with Turkish security firms to work in Azerbaijan.

The Washington Post, writing on October 13 about the repatriation of the bodies of 52 Syrian fighters, reported the deployment of Syrian mercenaries as a fact.

U.S. Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr., (Democrat-New Jersey), retweeted a story by The Wall Street Journal on October 14 that says hundreds of Turkish-backed Syrian militants have joined Azerbaijani forces.

Pallone called on the U.S. State Department and Washington's "partners" to condemn "these blatant violations of international law," saying that "it's clear that Azerbaijan and Turkey are using foreign mercenaries in their ongoing acts of aggression" in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Liz Cookman, an Istanbul-based journalist writing for the U.S. journal Foreign Policy, said sources within the Turkish-based SNA had confirmed that at least 1,500 Syrian fighters have been deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh.

"The first fighters were transferred in late September to southern Turkey and then flown from Gaziantep to Ankara, before being transferred to Azerbaijan on September 25," Cookman reported on October 5. "According to fighter accounts, SNA commanders arrived earlier to explore the region and coordinate with the Azerbaijani army about the distribution of troops."

Cookman said many Syrians who took a four-month contract for about $1,500 per month, paid in Turkish lira, were "already regretting it, especially now that a reported 55 Syrian mercenaries have been killed after being confronted with a lot more hands-on fighting than they'd been promised."

Geolocation Versus Disinformation
Reputable international media organizations, foreign governments, and independent analysts are not the only sources who report Syrian mercenaries have been fighting for Azerbaijan.
There also are videos circulating on social media that purportedly show Syrian fighters in the conflict.

The Independent newspaper reported that unverified video shared on social media showing Syrian fighters talking about being in Armenia has been geolocated by analysts to an Azerbaijani base in Horadiz, just a few kilometers from the front lines.

The Independent reported that another social-media video shows a young Syrian man on the front line who was identified by Syria expert Elizabeth Tsurkov as Mustafa Qanti, a 23-year-old fighter from the Turkish-backed Hamza Division. It said that footage was geolocated by "a well-known open-source expert" to an Azerbaijani ammunition depot just south of Horadiz in the combat zone.

Tsurkov, who said she had had personal contact with Syrian mercenaries fighting for Azerbaijan, shared a video on October 11 that she said "apparently" shows Turkish-backed "Syrian National Army fighters" filming themselves in Azerbaijani uniforms near the Iranian border.

Apparently Syrian National Army fighters (a Turkish-backed force) film themselves in Azeri uniform, near the Iranian border. The man says in Arabic "Armenians... God is great. Liberation," then flashes the grey wolf sign used by the Turkish far-right.
— Elizabeth Tsurkov (@Elizrael) October 11, 2020

But it’s also clear that some social-media posts are not what they purport to be, suggesting that different actors are posting bogus video clips as part of disinformation campaigns.

RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service examined one short, jumpy video posted on social media on October 4 that purportedly shows Chechen fighters in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.

Using geolocation techniques, RFE/RL determined the 37-second video was actually shot in Crimea, the Ukrainian Black Sea region seized and illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.

Bellingcat, a U.K.-based, open-source investigative website, filed a report on October 7 showing how a Telegram channel affiliated with Russia's private mercenary firm Vagner PMC used photographs from Syria to "troll" Nagorno-Karabakh analysts about the presence of Russian fighters in the battle.

Such activity has contributed to the divisive public debate about whether Syrian fighters are in Azerbaijan.

Turkey's Precedent In Libya
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is not the first time Turkey has been accused of recruiting militants it has backed in Syria to fight in other countries.

A United Nations panel of experts says Turkey in December 2019 began to recruit about 5,000 Syrian fighters from Turkish-backed forces to bolster Libya's internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).

That UN panel also said Russian security contractors had recruited an additional 1,200 Syrians who supported the Assad regime in order to fight for the GNA's rival, Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar.

Numerous Western media reports quoted those recruited by Turkey as saying they had been promised jobs guarding Libyan installations but, instead, found themselves engaged in bitter combat against Haftar's Russian-backed forces.

UN investigators also have detailed crimes committed by Turkish-backed SNA fighters in Syria -- including kidnappings, rape, and extortion.

The pro-government Turkish think tank SETA says 21 of the 28 factions within the SNA umbrella group received support from the United States in order to combat the Islamic State extremist group in Syria.

But other SNA factions, such as Ahrar al-Sham, were previously allied with Al-Qaeda and have been described by some U.S. officials as "terrorist" organizations.

Neil Hauer, an expert for the Middle East Institute currently reporting from Nagorno-Karabakh, said he was skeptical at first about reports of Syrian fighters in Azerbaijan. But he said now there was too much "hard evidence" of a Syrian presence to ignore.

"Turkish forces are replicating what they did in Libya," Hauer told The Independent. "But the conflict [in Nagorno-Karabakh] is completely different, as two professional state armies are involved. The Syrians are completely expendable when they are there. The battlefield value of these guys is very limited."

With reporting by Amos Chapple


Dec 20, 2017
1,697 47 0
It was Pakistani social media, regulated by PEMRA who invented this rumor, Pakistan should have controlled it right than and there.
Probably Armenia picked up from social media, and believed it because of Pakistan's role in Syrian genocide and diplomatic support to militias in Yemen.


Feb 18, 2020
2 0 0
New Zealand
New Zealand
Has anyone got any reliable information on the various drone and missile attacks on tanks that one sees on the news (Al Jazeera)
Are these acual videos from the confilct or training videos.
Which side is losing all these tanks?


Staff member
Nov 25, 2014
2,409 25 0

Fears grow over new Armenian genocide as Israeli “kamikaze drones” used in Turkey-backed Azerbaijani strikes against civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh

Azerbaijan forces are using Israeli “kamikaze drone” weapons, alongside Turkish military backing, in bombing strikes against civilian targets, including churches, in the disputed Armenian Christian-majority region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The recent conflict in in Nagorno-Karabakh (often called “Artsakh” by Armenians, which is the historic Armenian name for the territory) erupted on Sunday 27 September when cluster bombs rained down on the population of around 144,000 ethnic Armenians.

“Churches full of praying people are bombed”
According to Barnabas contacts, the capital city, Stepanakert, and several other major towns have been under constant shelling. “Residential houses and all civilian infrastructure are being destroyed causing humanitarian catastrophe,” said the contact.
Harrowingly, the contact confirmed shelling of occupied church buildings. “Churches full of praying people inside are bombed,” she described. “The places of worship are “compared to ‘toilets’ and [the bombing] justified by Azerbaijani political scientist Saadat Kadirova as ‘it is our territory and we have the right to kill them in the toilets,’” the contact added.
The contact pleaded for prayer and support for the beleaguered Armenian people of Nagorno-Karabakh “who want to live in a free, democratic country without the fear of annihilation in their own historical Homeland”.
Alarm raised over jihadi mercenary forces redeployed from Syria
Alarmingly, the contact flagged the concern that jihadi insurgents, well-practised in committing atrocities against civilians, from Syria, Libya, Pakistan and Afghanistan are being “hired” by the Turkish and Azeri military to fight a proxy war in the region.
The official reason for the Azeri-Turkish offensive is Azerbaijan’s claim over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but remains under Armenian control. The traditionally majority-Armenian Christian territory bordering with Muslim-majority Azerbaijan has been under dispute between the two former Soviet bloc countries since the collapse of the USSR in the late 1980s.
Fears over escalation to “pan-Turkic” war and reprise of Armenian genocide
Concerns are growing that the latest round of the conflict between Armenia and ethnically Turkic Azerbaijan, which has a mainly Shia Muslim population, could escalate into a war involving regional powers, with NATO member Turkey allied with Azerbaijan in a major offensive.
Oil-rich Azerbaijan also has a longstanding strategic relationship with Israel, providing it with a significant proportion of its oil supply, while the former Soviet bloc republic procures 60% of its arms from Israel.
According to a regional expert, a historic motivation for the Azeri-Turkish action, dating from the time of the Ottoman empire, is Pan-Turkism, or the creation of Turan – a world for Turks. Nagorno-Karabakh is a buffer zone lying in the way of a wider offensive that would wipe out Armenians and allow Turkey and Azerbaijan to unite into one country.
“The Turkic motto before the attack was ‘Two countries, one nation,’ now it has been changed into ‘One nation, one country,’” said the expert.
The Armenian Genocide, officially recognised by 28 countries, was perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkish government against its Armenian subjects, with the violence peaking in 1915 and occurring periodically for three decades. Over 1.5 million Armenians are thought to have died in the state-sanctioned genocide as the Ottoman authorities apparently sought to create a purely Muslim state. Some Armenians saved their lives by converting to Islam, demonstrating that the motivation for the genocide was religious not racial. Ottoman Turks also targeted other ethnic Christians for their faith in the massacre of an estimated 750,000 Assyrian and Syriac Christians between 1915 and 1918 and up to 1.5 million Greeks between 1914 and 1923.


Armenian civilians, escorted by Ottoman soldiers, marching through the ancient town of Harput in Turkey to prison, in April 1915. Many of those pictured were among the 1.5 million killed in the Armenian genocide of 1915-1918
Deadly Israeli stealth drones hover over battlefield with bombs
Azerbaijan was the first nation to purchase the deadly “kamikaze” anti-radiation drones from Israel and deployed them in the militarily intensive four-day “April War”, which interrupted the ceasefire in 2016. The stealth weapon’s electric motors are virtually silent until they start their attack dive.
The new class of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) munition is essentially a kamikaze, or suicide, drone that is loaded with bombs and hovers over the battlefield while its remote operator searches for targets. The drone is then flown in to strike, destroying both itself and the target.


A "suicide drone"
The Orbiter 1K UAV, made by Israeli defence contractor Aeronautics, recently supplied to the Azerbaijan military, carries a 3kg warhead.
Attack drones shipped via Turkey under guise of “humanitarian cargo”
Armenia recalled its ambassador to Israel on 1 October over Israeli arms sales to Azerbaijan. Protesting against the Israeli weapons exports, Armenian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Anna Naghdalyan, said, “Israel’s workstyle is unacceptable. The ministry has to call back its ambassador in Israel.”

On 11 October, Artsrun Hovhannisyan, a representative of Armenia’s Ministry of Defence, stated that “attack drones are being intensively brought to Azerbaijan from Turkey and Israel under the guise of “humanitarian cargo”. Two days later the High Court of Israel rejected a ban on arms sales to Azerbaijan, citing a “lack of evidence”.
Azerbaijan purchased billions of dollars in Israeli weapons since 2012
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a leading conflict and armaments think-tank, Israel provided Azerbaijan with some $825 million in weapons between 2006 and 2019.
Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, discussed the purchase of nearly $5 billion-worth in defence equipment from Israel during a visit to Azerbaijan by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2016.

In 2012, Azerbaijan agreed to buy $1.6 billion, almost equivalent to the country’s entire annual defence budget, in weapons from Israel, in a deal that will include drones, anti-aircraft and missile defence systems.


May 19, 2020
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Turkey’s TB2 drones are changing modern warfare​

Offering a force multiplier to its users, TB2 drones are behind Azerbaijan’s rapid advance on the strategic Lachin highway linking occupied Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia.​

Azerbaijan and Armenia are locked in a fierce battle over the long-disputed occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region, with high casualties reported by both sides.
The Armenia-backed Republic of Artsakh occupying Nagorno-Karabakh, confirmed its military death toll had reached 974. Azerbaijan says 65 Azerbaijani civilians have been killed and 298 wounded, but has not disclosed its military casualties.

The current conflict is the worst the region has seen since the original devastating quarrel in the 1990s. Despite Russian-mediated ceasefires, unprecedented reports of the destruction of military hardware are emerging from the front line.

Unlike previous conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh that saw death tolls above 30,000, Azerbaijan has made major advances with significantly fewer casualties. After capturing a series of villages and strategic bridges, Azerbaijan’s Armed Forces occupied the Nagorno-Karabakh region’s southern border with Iran on October 22, and appeared to turn northwest on October 23 advancing on the infamous Lachin Corridor.

The Lachin Corridor contains the only major highway linking the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh to Armenia. Most recent geolocated updates show that Azerbaijan’s advance has captured nearly 10 percent of Nagorno-Karabakh, leaving their forces only 10 km away from cutting off the Lachin highway.

Controlling the highway would prevent resupply of fuel, ammunition and military reinforcements from Armenia.

Following an Artsakh counterattack to repel Azerbaijan’s steady advance on the highway, Armenian forces also began a counter-offensive near the far southwestern Azerbaijan-Armenia border in a likely attempt to relieve pressure on the Lachin highway offensive.

But for Azerbaijan, the strategic asset is already within its sights, and well within its range. Traditionally, artillery, mortar fire and even direct fire or guided missiles could be used during the day to prevent military convoys.

But now, even the night’s darkness offers no safety. That’s a big deal, and drones made it possible. In today’s battlefields, if you control the sky, you control the ground. For Azerbaijan, controlling the Lachin highway gives it significant leverage to negotiate a favourable end to the fighting.

Tank doctrine threatened
The mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh region doesn’t lend itself well to tank movements. The long, winding, narrow roads that thread through its hills leaves tanks heavily exposed. Traditionally, tanks are used in tandem with ground forces to ensure anti-tank weapons can’t be brought to bear on expensive armoured forces.

Throughout modern warfare however, tanks have proved their worth at holding positions when dug entrenchment tactics.
US Armored Tank Tactics Field Manual, 1993.
US Armored Tank Tactics Field Manual, 1993. (US Department of Defense)

By minimizing their exposed surface areas, entrenched tanks make the price of further advances a prohibitive one. Short of overwhelming air power, this can quickly lead to a stalemate. Even a strong air force presence can be mitigated by relatively cheap ground to air missiles, MANPADS, as the cheap anti-air missiles can cost anywhere from $5000 to $300,000 for a more advanced variety. With fighter jets averaging anywhere from 10 to 100 million USD, the grim calculus of asymmetric warfare quickly sets in.

The very same strategic rationale promoted the CIA to arm the Taliban against USSR forces, occupying Afghanistan in the 1990’s, leading to the ultimate withdrawal of Soviet Russia.

Previously, being able to push through entrenched defences was the privilege of only the most advanced militaries. No longer the purview of the powerful, modern warfare is changing, giving middle-tier powers the ability to inexpensively punch above their weight.

While the sale of drones like the US Predator drone are heavily regulated to ensure the US and its close allies maintain a military edge, that’s quickly changing. Enter Turkey’s TB2 unmanned drone.

New tactics
The steady Azerbaijani reclamation of occupied Nagorno-Karabakh saw a slew of articles denying that warfare had changed with the systematic use of drones in modern warfare. At their best, experts admitted that “cheap Turkish drones are slicing through Armenian defences.” In spite of their nearly equal military standings, “Azerbaijan’s military boasts a definitive qualitative technological edge,” admits Pavel Felgenhauer, a Russian defence analyst speaking to the Economist.

Another article led with, “No, drones haven’t made tanks obsolete.” In it, experts make the case that Armenia’s losses are due to improper training and bad terrain, not “magic technology.”

But the rise of non-US drone warfare has been long in the making. In late February 2020, when 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in an Idlib airstrike, Turkey quickly launched a five day offensive in northern Syria that gave the TB2 unmanned drone its name.

In a radically new deployment of unmanned drones targeting armoured forces, chemical weapons depots and air defence platforms, Turkey carried out hundreds of strikes, claiming more than 2,500 Syrian regime fighters had been killed. The ensuing victory halted the Syrian regime’s advance on Idlib, and pressured Moscow into mediating a ceasefire.

The very same tactics were used by Azerbaijan in the opening salvos of the conflict, as it used its drones to methodically eliminate significant swathes of Armenian air defence installations, artillery and tanks using a relatively small fleet of TB2 drones.

Rising tide
After 9/11, the US was quick to establish its dominance in drone warfare, launching its first strike in 2001. Sale of the top-tier Predator and Reaper drones are strictly regulated by military and congressional oversight. Restrictions and the hefty price tag (Reaper drones cost nearly $12 million USD) have led some nations to turn to China’s CH-4, a similar albeit less sophisticated drone. In Turkey however, a new drone was on the rise.

In 2005, 26-year-old Selcuk Bayraktar, a doctoral student at MIT presented a small homemade drone to a group of Turkish officials. After taking over his father’s engineering firm, originally founded in 1984, the company began to focus on unmanned drones.

“Boeing, Lockheed, these are big companies, right?” Bayraktar asked. “We are making those same systems. If Turkey supports this project, these drones, in five years Turkey can be at the forefront of the world, easily.”

By 2007, Bayraktar had quit his PhD at MIT, and returned to build drones full-time in Turkey. A few years later, his TB2 drone would surpass Turkish Aerospace Industry’s (TAI) drone, and completely replace the logic that it was better for Turkey to purchase them from the US instead of building their own.

The drones were a game changer, offering Turkish forces real time intelligence on PKK terrorist cross-border movements. By 2019, Turkey had fielded more than 75 TB2 drones, flying over 6,000 hours a month. With a range of 150 km, and a payload of 120lbs at the time, the drones cracked down on the PKK’s movements and major activity. The rest quickly became history.

Having seen use in Syria, Iraq, Libya and against the PKK, only 8 years after its first flight, the affordable $5 million TB2 drone is used by Libya, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Qatar, Turkmenistan, Oman and Pakistan.
For traditional powers, this has prompted concern over the changing power dynamics across the world. For Turkey, it's one step closer to eliminating any foreign dependence in its defence industry by 2023.

In Azerbaijan, however, it presents an alternative to a protracted, dug-in conflict, and hopes of restoring its occupied lands.

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May 19, 2020
210 15 0