YEREVAN (ArmRadio)—The three pilots of Artsakh’s downed helicopter were laid to rest at Armenia’s Yerablur Military Cemetery Tuesday in accordance with military tradition.
“We’re determined to bring home our soldiers who fell on the path to Armenia’s freedom,” Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian said at the weekend, referring to a special military operation to retrieve the remains of the slain helicopter crew. After days of useless calls by the international community urging Azerbaijan to respect the cease fire so that the Armenian side can access the crash site, the Artsakh Defense Army undertook a special operation to retrieve the bodies of the crew members.
“November 22 became the proof of this resolve,” Ohanian said. “Bowing before the memory of our fallen pilots, we at the same time express gratitude to the participants of the special operation to retrieve their bodies. The death of Major Sergey Sahakyan, Lieutenant Sargis Nazaryan and Lieutenant Azat Sahakyan was yet another demonstration of the illogical and irresponsible policy of the adversary,” Ohanian said at Yerablur Tuesday.
The Minister said 2014 was a hard year. The downing of the helicopter during a training flight was the continuation of Azerbaijan’s provocative actions that started on Jan. 20. He added that Azerbaijan failed to achieve anything thanks to the worthy resistance the Armenian forces show every time.
“The enemy today is paying for its short-sighted and miscalculated steps and the authorities still have to respond for the losses in their own army, which they could have avoided,” the Defense Minister said.
The crew members of the helicopter were posthumously awarded with military honors by Artsakh’s President Bako Sahakian. Artsakh’s Defense Minister Movses Hakobyan handed the soldiers’ medals to their families Tuesday.
On Nov. 12, an unarmed Mi-24 helicopter belonging to the Artsakh Air Force was shot down by Azerbaijani armed forces while conducting an exercise flight. The area where the helicopter was shot down stayed under fire from Azerbaijani forces continuously following the downing of the aircraft. A special operation was eventually carried out to retrieve the remains of the slain pilots. The Commander of the staff was the Major Sergey Sahakyan, accompanied by Senior Lieutenant Sarkis Nazaryan and Lieutenant Azat Sahakyan.