The Armenian Defense Ministry said the incident occurred during Azerbaijan air and artillery strikes on military and civilian targets in Armenia’s Gegharkunik province west of Karabakh.
According to the ministry spokeswoman, Shushan Stepanian, Azerbaijan’s Su-25 warplanes and Turkish Bayraktar attack drones were engaged by Armenia air-defense units while carrying out the strikes in the morning.
Stepanian said that a Su-25 plane of the Armenian Air Force flew to the area to support those units only to be shot down by a Turkish F-16 jet. The plane’s pilot was killed as a result, she said in a statement, adding that the incident occurred in Armenia’s airspace.
“Turkey is carrying out a direct aggression against Armenia,” another Armenian military official, Artsrun Hovannisian, wrote on Facebook.
Ankara denied downing the Armenian jet. Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry also dismissed the Armenian report.
Turkey deployed several F-16s in Azerbaijan ahead of joint Azerbaijani-Turkish military exercises held in August. Subsequent news reports said they remained in Azerbaijan after the end of the drills.
Stepanian said that multiple Turkish jets took off from an airfield in Gyanja, Azerbaijan’s second largest city located several dozen kilometers from northern Karabakh, to protect the Azerbaijani warplanes and drones during their raids on Armenia.
Earlier on Friday Baku accused Armenian forces of shelling Azerbaijan’s Dashkesan region bordering Gegharkunik. Yerevan was quick to deny that, saying that the Azerbaijani side is “preparing the ground” for attacking Armenian territory.
The cross-border incidents were reported on the third day of large-hostilities along the Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact” around Karabakh, which have left scores of soldiers from both sides dead.
The Armenian government on Monday accused Ankara of being directly involved in the worst flare-up of violence in the Karabakh conflict zone in years.
The Armenian government on Monday accused Ankara of being directly involved in the worst flare-up of violence in the Karabakh conflict zone in years. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian described the reported loss of the Armenian aircraft as “further proof” of that involvement.
“According to our information, Turkey is now looking for an excuse for an even wider involvement in the conflict,” Pashinian told Russian state television.
Pashinian claimed that Ankara is specifically seeking to send Turkish troops to Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave bordering Armenia, Iran and Turkey. He went on to urge the international community to “make Turkey leave the South Caucasus,” saying that the Turkish presence is destabilizing the region.
Armenia has until now refrained from formally requesting military aid from Russia or the Russian-led Collective Treaty Organization (CSTO), of which Armenia is a member.
It was not immediately clear whether Yerevan will seek such support after the reported downing of the Armenian jet.
Pashinian phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin shortly after the report. The Kremlin said Putin expressed “serious concern at the continuing hostilities” in the conflict zone and stressed the “urgent need” to halt them and take “measures to de-escalate the crisis.”
According to the official Armenian readout of the call, Pashinian spoke “in detail” about consequences of the “aggression launched by Azerbaijan.”
The two men already spoke by phone on Sunday hours after the outbreak of the fighting in Karabakh. Putin has not yet talked to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
Russia has a military base in Armenia. Russian-Armenian treaties commit it to protecting the South Caucasus country’s internationally recognized borders.