Nagorno-Karabakh: New weapons for an old conflict spell danger

The new war over Nagorno-Karabakh is a conventional one, being fought by professional armed forces.

But this time, hi-tech 21st-century weaponry has the capacity to make this decades-old conflict more destructive than ever before.

If official battlefield statistics are to be believed, the death toll is staggering. Azerbaijan has yet to confirm the number of its war dead.

But Armenia claimed to have killed or wounded 5,000 Azeri personnel at the time of writing. Armenia has regularly updated its military body count, which so far stands at almost 500. Azerbaijan has estimated the real number is many times higher.

Claims about territorial gains and losses inflicted on each side have proven difficult to verify. Not only have media teams limited access to the front-line fighting, but aerial bombardment of civilian areas has also made their work extremely hazardous.

At least six journalists have been injured.

But battlefield videos and the known military capabilities of the two warring sides suggest Azerbaijan has the technological advantage, especially with its combat drones purchased from Israel and Turkey.

Some carry their own missiles. Others are guided “kamikaze” bombs.

Whether their destructive powers will prove to be the decisive factor in the current conflict has yet to be established.

Digital billboards in Baku have broadcast high-resolution imagery of missiles striking Armenian tanks and other military hardware, as well as groups of soldiers caught in the open.

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev told Turkish television that Turkish drones owned by Azerbaijan had “shrunk” the number of Azeri casualties.

“These drones show Turkey’s strength. It also empowers us,” he said.

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