Nov. 9 (UPI) -- The Azerbaijan military on Monday acknowledged its forces had shot down a Russian Mi-24 helicopter in Armenian airspace, killing two crew members, calling it an accident.
"The Azerbaijani side apologizes to the Russian side in connection with this tragic incident, which is accidental and was not directed against the Russian side," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
The ministry also expressed condolences to the families of the dead crew members and said Azerbaijan "declares its readiness to pay appropriate compensation."
The helicopter was shot down by a human-held surface-to-air missile in Armenian airspace near the settlement of Yeraskh, near the border with the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic in Azerbaijan. The Mi-24 was "accompanying a vehicle convoy of the 102nd Russian military base," the ministry said.
"The Russian Mi-24 helicopter was downed in the airspace over the territory of the Republic of Armenia outside the combat zone," Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told TASS, the state news agency.
In October, Russia agreed to aid Armenia if the Azeri clashes spilled into its territory, under a 1997 treaty between the two countries.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been fighting since Sept. 27, with Armenia calling for the Nagorno-Karabakh territory to be recognized internationally as an independent state. Azerbaijan accuses it of wanting to seize more land.
Armenians administer the disputed region, which is located within Azerbaijan's borders. Multiple cease-fire agreements have broken down and both sides have accused the other of airstrikes on civilian targets.
Azerbaijan has accepted help from Turkey, including buying armed TB2 drones sold by Baykar, owned by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's son-in-law, Selcuk Bayraktar, and his family, according to the Financial Times.
Azerbaijan said Monday the accident happened because the flight took place in the dark, at low altitude, outside the air defense radar detection zone. Russian Air Force helicopters have not been seen previously in the area, the Azeri government said.
But Armenia's government said Azerbaijan was offering "false and groundless" attempts to justify the attack and hinted that Russia might be drawn into the conflict.
"We are convinced that the use of force against the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation will receive an adequate response," the Armenian foreign ministry said in a statement Monday.