Bodies of Three Artsakh Pilots Retrieved in Special Military Operation

STEPANAKERT—In a special military operation held late on Nov. 21, the bodies of three Artsakh (Karabagh) pilots were retrieved from the Mi-24 helicopter crash site.

The helicopter was shot down by Azerbaijan on Nov. 12 while on a training flight. The Azeri Armed Forces continued to fire on the helicopter, preventing the Armenian side from approaching the crash site. The three crew members were identified as Maj. Sergey Sahakyan, Sr. Lt. Sargis Nazaryan, and Lt. Azat Sahakyan.

“As a result of the special operation, the remains of the crew were retrieved, as well as specific parts of the helicopter,” read a statement by the Artsakh Defense Ministry. The statement also noted that two Azeri soldiers were killed during the Nov. 21 operation, and that there were no casualties on the Armenian side.

According to Armenia’s Defense Ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisian, Artsakh’s Armed Forces were able to retrieve the body of one pilot, and the remains of the other two. Artsakh’s Defense Army, he said, was forced to undertake the special military operation to determine the fate of the helicopter crew given Azerbaijan’s lack of negotiating will.

The three crew members were posthumously awarded the Medal of Courage by Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan on Nov. 22, following the successful operation.

In a Nov. 13 statement, Artsakh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had called the attack “an unprecedented violation of the ceasefire fraught with serious escalation of tension.”

The Artsakh State Commission on Prisoners of War, Hostages, and Missing Persons appealed to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Nov. 13, informing the organization of the continued gunfire preventing soldiers and relief workers from reaching the flight crew.

On Nov. 19, the co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group released a statement expressing “deep concern” over the inaccessibility of the crash site of the helicopter. The co-chairs had released a statement on Nov. 12 expressing “serious concern” over the attack, and appealed to both sides to adhere to the ceasefire. They fell short of unequivocally condemning the attack as an act of aggression by Azerbaijan, instead opting to address both countries.

The downed helicopter was on a training flight as part of joint Armenia-Artsakh military drills in the area. The “Unity 2014” exercises involved more than 30,000 troops, 3,000 armored vehicles, artillery, and air defense units, according to the Artsakh Defense Ministry website.


    • Without going into too much gruesome detail, the pilot’s body remained intact while the other two sitting in the back were burnt/dismembered, thus – “remains.”

  1. Armenia/Artsakh paid a heavy price by sacrificing the young lives of 3 great heroes of our recent times. The recovery operation was BETTER LATE THAN NEVER since it gave rise to the impression that balance of power was shifted. Knowing the enemy well, one hopes the retrieval of bodies of our heroes will be the first step to imminent major blow to Azerbaijan and also a slap on the double faced OSCE. “THIS LAND IS MY LAND” should be the practical strategy.

  2. This is one of the several proper ways of responding to the Azeris. Basically saying to them “we can pull of stuff like this right under your nose.”

    Nice job guys.

    The Azeris also made themselves look bad because they were deliberately preventing the recovery of the bodies and being uncooperative. The Armenian side appealed to diplomatic channels (red cross etc.) before taking the initiative.

    If the Azeris had felt the copters were too close for comfort, they could have fired off warning shots of some sort. But they didn’t. They went for murder instead.

  3. It is disappointing that the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs statement in regards to the downed helicopter which was strictly on a training mission that instead of condemning the attack by the Azeri’s. the Minsk Group has made the statement that both sides should adhere to the ceasefire. When will the world wake up to the aggressive Azeri-Turks that the Nagorno Karabagh (Artsakh) has been for over 3000 years Historic Armenian Lands that during the Soviet error in 1922 Stalin gave that territory to the Azeri Turks, not counting other Armenian Historic lands such as Nakhichevan he gave to the Azeri’s & Javakh to the Georgians, & Kars & Ardahan to the Turkish Government. Not one nation has come forward bring up the true issues to help the Armenian Nation, instead it looks like they want the elimination of the Armenian Nation to become Moslimized Turks. Not one Christian Nation has stepped to help the 1st Christian Nation, the Armenian People.

  4. Bravo, bravo.
    It is wonderful that the forces were able to retrieve the bodies of our pilots and it just goes to show the sick mentality showed by the Azeri’s. MINSK group have shown also how pathethic and irresponsible they are by not doing a thing to resolve these issues. Another mickey mouse organisation. Shame on them.

  5. Well, if there was OIL and GAS in Armenia then OSCE and all the Organizations and Governments will talk and Support Armenia as well. But, fortunately we do not have these profit making Minerals. The only thing we have is “US” the People and its Punch.

  6. non of these would have happened
    there was no need for anybodey to die
    if………………… the helicopters had sky attack procteciton which i belive
    it the shortsigtness and miscalculation of the commonder of the drill

    knowing the BEAST we are dealing we all we need caution cation and more cation
    always have the land and sky protection when it comes military drill

  7. Retrieving dead Armenian heroes bodies by special operations forces, means that Artsakhi armed forces capable to penetrate into Tatar-Turks land, keep enemy off balance, reduce their troop movements, and destroy enemy military command posts!

  8. In addition to not condemning the Azerbaijani terrorist state for shooting down that unarmed helicopter flying within the Artsakh Republic’s airspace, the Minsk Group (United States, France, Russia) also declined to condemn them for continuously firing at the helicopter crash site each time the Armenians attempted to retrieve the bodies of the three Artsakh pilots. This again shows how enormously full of crap these three countries are, by persistently pretending to be devoted to peace and justice, but yet, behaving in the exact opposite manner.

    I think it’s quite amazing that during the military operation in which the Armenian side attempted to and succeeded in retrieving the bodies of those three Artsakh pilots while obviously being fired upon, they still managed to kill two Azeri soldiers without suffering any casualties. How did the Armenian military forces manage to pull off such an amazing feat?

    • Official number is 2.
      Unofficially 5-7 enemy soldiers were KIA during this operation.

      NKR military guessed, correctly, that Turkbaijanis would set a trap near the wreck of the helicopter, knowing full well that Armenians would not leave their combat buddies’ bodies behind.
      The Turks were hoping to trap and kill the Armenian rescue team.

      The number and location of the enemy soldiers was verified, by various means, and a special 4-man kill-team went in undetected and quietly eliminated the nomads one by one. They were eliminated so quietly, that the other Turkbaijani troops who were laying in wait knew nothing, until their turn came up…for eternal rest.
      Another recovery team went in and retrieved the bodies and remains of our men, plus the black-box of the helicopter.

      Quite amazing really.
      But par for course for Armenian warriors: during the NKR war, things were done in secret by intelligence teams – men and women – that are not widely known. Some deep cover women did things that are barely believable. Some day, hopefully, those heroic acts will be publicized.

  9. Is this their response?!! So they shoot down a chopper and then we beg them for days to allow us to recover their bodies and eventually we use force to recover the bodies which were laying there for days and now we are supposed to be happy about this! When will this people understand that what Azerbaijan is doing is some form of state sponsored terrorism, we need to use adequate amount of force otherwise these sheepherders will think that we are unable or we are afraid to do it.

    • since you participated in the NKR War of Survival and Liberation (1991-1994), and are a well decorated field commander, unlike the military and civilian leaders of NKR, maybe you can go to Artsakh and show them how to do it.

      So that the sheepherders do not think “…we are unable or we are afraid to do it.”.

    • Avery
      Firstly, at the time of the liberation war I was 8 or 9 year old kid in diaspora.
      Secondly, by attacking me personally, you are not really making any point here. The truth is that in recent years, Azerbaijan has been using every opportunity to raise the tension in the region. I am not a military commander, but as an engineer one of the first things I learned in physics is that if you want to control a process, you have to maintain the balance. Azerbaijan is killing, abusing and terrorizing, in return, Armenia is trying to act civil. This approach can only have two meanings, either we are trying to show something to the international community, the same international community which doesn’t give a hoot about the future of Armenia, or we are unable or afraid of retaliating. Personally, I would like to believe that the first is correct and we are simply trying to teach something to the sheepherders. The problem is that the sheepherders have been doing this now for centuries and they are not going to change.

    • Minas:

      When you insult the heroes and warriors of NKR, people who put their lives on the line, literally, every day, then you open yourself up for criticism.

      Here is where you insulted people of Artsakh: “….we are unable or we are afraid to do it.”.

      “Afraid” to do it ? How dare you.

      You were 8 or 9 during the NKR war ?
      Fine: you should be in prime age category by now to make a fine soldier serving the Armenian Nation.
      The war has not ended: it is just smoldering at the moment.
      Why don’t you go to Artsakh, enlist, get the necessary training – and show the locals how unafraid you really are.
      How about it ?

      And what you learned in physics has absolutely no relevance to the issue with Turkbaijan. Laws of physics/nature are rational. People are irrational: Turkbaijani leadership certifiably so.

      And very easy to sit in your safe office somewhere in Western Diaspora and insult the men and women whose sons (…and many daughters) are standing guard at the LOC or just behind 24/7: in heat, cold, dust, rain, snow.
      So far in 2014, about 30 or so young Armenian men (from NKR and RoA) have been KIA at the LOC.
      Those are precious, irreplaceable sons of a set of parents who raised them to 18,19,20,… with a lot of sacrifice and hard work.

      And as for retaliation: what you don’t hear about is that Armenian side, on average, KIA anywhere from 2X to 5X the number of enemy soldiers every time.
      Armenians openly list our losses. Azerbaijan never does: they admit to a small fraction of their actual KIA; the rest are listed as having died from some mysterious illness, or accidents, or stepping on a mine, or suicides,….
      During the Jul 28-Aug 4 incursions by Azerbaijani special forces (trained in Turkey), our side lost 6 KIA: all conscripts.
      Officially Azerbaijan admitted to 25 KIA on their side: the real number is closer to about 120.

      One last thing:
      President of NKR, Bako Sahakyan, was a fighter and commander on the frontlines during war,
      President of RoA, Serzh Sargsyan, was a wartime commander during the NKR war.
      Defense Minster of NKR, Lieutenant General Movses Hakobyan, was a frontline fighter during the war.
      Defense Minister of RoA, Colonel General Seyran Ohanyan, was a frontline fighter during the war. He was commander of one of the 4 groups that stormed and liberated Shushi. He is as fearless as they come. He lost a leg during the war.

      The rest of Armenian military leadership has seen war up close. For years. They have seen their buddies, childhood friends, bleed to death in front of their eye.
      While you were growing up in safe Disapora, these men and women were fighting – with little ammunition, little food, no winter clothing.
      The enemy outnumbered them 4-to-1, with abundant ammunition, food, fuel, tanks, jet fighter, helicopter gunships,…..
      Outnumbered, outgunned, these Armenian men and women never flinched from a firefight. Stood their ground, crushed the invaders, then chased them all the way to Arax river.

      And you give yourself the right to call them cowards ?

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