Russian military helicopter ‘accidentally’ shot down by Azerbaijan forces, killing two crew members

Fury has erupted in Armenia amid a peace deal with Azerbaijan – bringing to an end weeks of fierce clashes between the two countries.

Angry protesters stormed the headquarters of the Armenian government in the country’s capital, Yerevan, following the announcement of the ceasefire on Tuesday.  

They ransacked offices and broke windows, while thousands gathered outside the building, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

It comes after the two countries agreed a deal with Russia to end weeks of fierce clashes over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The mostly mountainous area is internationally recognised as Azerbaijani, but has been run by ethnic Armenians since 1994 and is disputed by Armenia.

Fighting broke out in the region in September and more than 1,000 people are thought to have died.

A Russian helicopter was also mistakenly shot down by Azerbaijani forces.

Angry protesters stormed the headquarters of the Armenian government in the country's capital, Yerevan, following the announcement of the ceasefire on Tuesday

Angry protesters stormed the headquarters of the Armenian government in the country's capital, Yerevan, following the announcement of the ceasefire on Tuesday

Angry protesters stormed the headquarters of the Armenian government in the country’s capital, Yerevan, following the announcement of the ceasefire on Tuesday

They ransacked offices and broke windows, while thousands gathered outside the building, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan

They ransacked offices and broke windows, while thousands gathered outside the building, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan

They ransacked offices and broke windows, while thousands gathered outside the building, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan

The ceasefire followed a string of Azerbaijani victories in its fight to retake the disputed region.  

Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan described the peaceful as a ‘painful’ deal to the end the fighting.

He said: ‘I have signed a statement with the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan on the termination of the Karabakh war.’

He called the move ‘unspeakably painful for me personally and for our people,’ adding: ‘I have taken this decision as a result of an in-depth analysis of the military situation.’

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said Pashinyan had been left with no choice but to sign the ‘historic agreement’. 

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev said Pashinyan (pictured) had been left with no choice but to sign the 'historic agreement'

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev said Pashinyan (pictured) had been left with no choice but to sign the 'historic agreement'

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said Pashinyan (pictured) had been left with no choice but to sign the ‘historic agreement’

Aliyev said the agreement gave Armenia a short time frame to withdraw its troops from parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and that Russia and Azerbaijan’s ally Turkey would be involved in implementing the ceasefire.

Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed that both sides had agreed to ‘a total ceasefire… in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone’.

The deal would end six weeks of fierce clashes over Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian region of Azerbaijan that broke away from Baku’s control during a bitter war in the 1990s.

The conflict – which simmered for decades despite international efforts to reach a peace deal – erupted into fresh fighting in late September.

At least 1,000 people have been confirmed killed, including dozens of civilians, but the actual death toll is believed to be significantly higher.

Azerbaijani forces made steady gains over the weeks of fighting, sweeping across the southern flank of Nagorno-Karabakh and eventually into the region’s heartland.

A turning point came on Sunday when Aliyev announced that his forces had captured Shusha, the region’s strategically vital second-largest town.

Shusha sits on cliffs overlooking Nagorno-Karbakh’s main city Stepanakert and on the main road to Armenia, which backs the separatists.

Armenia insisted earlier on Monday that fighting for the town was continuing but a local separatist official admitted that Shusha was ‘completely out of our control’.

The ceasefire deal came just hours after Azerbaijan admitted to accidentally shooting down a Russian military helicopter flying in Armenia. 

The Mi-24 helicopter was shot down in Armenia near the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, a landlocked exclave of Azerbaijan, the defence ministry in Moscow said. 

A Russian military helicopter was shot down by Azerbaijan forces, killing two crew members (pictured)

A Russian military helicopter was shot down by Azerbaijan forces, killing two crew members (pictured)

A Russian military helicopter was shot down by Azerbaijan forces, killing two crew members (pictured)

The statement said that the helicopter (pictured) was hit by a man-portable air defence system on Monday

The statement said that the helicopter (pictured) was hit by a man-portable air defence system on Monday

The statement said that the helicopter (pictured) was hit by a man-portable air defence system on Monday

The statement said that the helicopter was hit near the village of Yeraskh at around 2.30pm as it accompanied a convoy to Russia‘s military base in Armenia. 

The statement said that the helicopter was hit by a man-portable air defence system on Monday.

Their forces are fighting Armenian-backed separatists in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

A third person was injured and evacuated, the ministry said in a statement, and a probe at the Russian base is under way.

The Mi-24 helicopter was shot down in Armenia near the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, a landlocked exclave of Azerbaijan (pictured)

The Mi-24 helicopter was shot down in Armenia near the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, a landlocked exclave of Azerbaijan (pictured)

The Mi-24 helicopter was shot down in Armenia near the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, a landlocked exclave of Azerbaijan (pictured)

The statement said that the helicopter (pictured) was hit near the village of Yeraskh at around 2.30pm as it accompanied a convoy to Russia 's military base in Armenia

The statement said that the helicopter (pictured) was hit near the village of Yeraskh at around 2.30pm as it accompanied a convoy to Russia 's military base in Armenia

The statement said that the helicopter (pictured) was hit near the village of Yeraskh at around 2.30pm as it accompanied a convoy to Russia ‘s military base in Armenia 

A third person was injured and evacuated, the ministry said in a statement, and a probe at the Russian base is under way

A third person was injured and evacuated, the ministry said in a statement, and a probe at the Russian base is under way

A third person was injured and evacuated, the ministry said in a statement, and a probe at the Russian base is under way 

Armenian authorities said the Russian helicopter had crashed 'in a gorge' near the village of Yeraskh (crash site, pictured)

Armenian authorities said the Russian helicopter had crashed 'in a gorge' near the village of Yeraskh (crash site, pictured)

 Armenian authorities said the Russian helicopter had crashed ‘in a gorge’ near the village of Yeraskh (crash site, pictured) 

Armenian authorities said the Russian helicopter had crashed ‘in a gorge’ near the village of Yeraskh.

The incident came during a spike in fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenian separatists. 

Russia, which has a military alliance with Armenia, has said it would only intervene if fighting reached Armenian soil.

This was after Pashinyan asked President Vladimir Putin to begin ‘urgent’ consultations on security assistance.  

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