Video Shows Strike by Israeli-made Kamikaze Drone in Armenia During Nagorno-Karabakh Fighting

Yaniv Kubovich
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Yaniv Kubovich

A video recently released by Armenian officials shows an Israeli-made "suicide" drone destroying a Russian-made S-300 anti-air missile battery in Armenia in October as part of its war with Azerbaijan, during which Israel came under criticism for selling arms to Azerbaijan.

The drone is a Harop loitering munition, made by Israel Aerospace Industries and purchased by Azerbaijan in arms deals signed between the two countries over the years.

The Azeris have claimed before they were acquiring weapons from Israel "for defense purposes," but this is the first time the drone is clearly seen used in an offensive.

During the fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh region last year, Armenia complained that Israel had armed and was continuing to arm Azerbaijan with advanced weapons that were causing heavy casualties.

An Israeli source familiar with the details and who is in direct contact with Armenian defense officials told Haaretz that this was an unusual footage of an attack on air defense systems and on Armenian soil.

“Releasing evidence of involvement by Israeli and foreign forces in the fighting in Armenia is motivated by Armenian soldiers and officers' need to put everything on the table,” said the source.

As an Israeli, he added, “Israel’s image is important to me, and it’s important for Israelis to know that we sold weapons used against Armenia, which is a country that is friendly with Israel. Why should Israeli weapons hurt Armenia, and why didn’t they stop the transfer of weapons that caused the deaths of so many?”

A month before a cease-fire agreement was signed, Armenian President Armen Sargsyan said he was "very disappointed in Israel” and that “Israel should have stopped the supply of weapons the moment the fighting began, but it did not do so.”

The footage is from October 10, a month before a cease-fire agreement was signed on November 10, in what was perceived in Armenia as a humiliating deal, reached after it suffered heavy blows by Azerbaijan. Now, as part of the protest against the Armenian president for his conduct of the war and its aftermath, military personnel have started to release documentation collected during the war.

The footage shows an attack on a military base in the Armenian village of Kaghnut, which was reported to have been attacked several times during the latest flare-up. In the video, the S-300 battery appears not to be in use, since it interceptors were not in operational mode. The drone strike was precise and totally destroyed the battery.

During the fighting, both sides provided evidence of the use of Israeli-made drones. On October 15, U.S. military officials held a press conference and said that an Israeli Harop drone had attacked air defense systems on Armenian soil; they even showed the video at the press conference. But the video was immediately removed from social media sites on the order of senior Armenian Defense Ministry officials, apparently under pressure from Russia.

Israel Aerospace Industries declined to comment.