As tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia escalates, Turkey has deployed F-16 fighter jets in Azerbaijan for joint military exercises. In a statement by Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry, the Turkish F-16 jets will take part in the TurAz Qartali-2020 Joint Exercises which commenced on Wednesday.
The joint military drills, involving fighter jets and helicopters are expected to send a stern signal to Armenia which is involved in a bitter conflict with Azerbaijan.
“According to the plan, the situation is evaluated, combat missions are specified, reconnaissance of the area is carried out in real conditions,” the Azerbaijani ministry said in an earlier statement. “After hearing the relevant reports, the tasks for the use of troops participating in the exercises are clarified in accordance with the adopted decision,” it noted.
The drill comes on the heels of clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the northwestern Tovuz border region. At least 11 Azerbaijani soldiers, including a major general and a colonel, were killed in the conflict.
According to a BBC report, Azerbaijan had asserted that it had pounded an Armenian fortification and artillery and had inflicted casualties on “hundreds” of Armenian soldiers, a claim Armenia outrightly rejected.
The Azerbaijani president doubled down on his government’s assertion that Armenia had ignited the clashes, saying: “Armenia’s political and military leadership will bear the entire responsibility for the provocation.”
Armenia, in turn, said Azerbaijan had initiated the clashes, with Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan declaring during a cabinet meeting that Azerbaijani “provocations will not be unanswered”. The defence minister had added that Armenian forces “do not shell civilian targets in Azerbaijan and only target the engineering infrastructure and technical facilities of the Azerbaijani armed forces”.