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Canada suspends exports of military drone technology to Turkey

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The Canadian federal government has decided to suspend the export of sophisticated drone technology to Turkey while Ottawa investigates claims that it is being used by the Azerbaijani military against Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Monday.

Champagne was responding to calls by Canada's Armenian community and the disarmament group Ploughshares International to stop the export of Canadian drone optics and laser targeting systems to Turkey following reports that Ankara has deployed dozens of unmanned aircraft in combat against Armenian forces in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.

Kelsey Gallagher, an expert with Project Ploughshares who has studied exports of Canadian drone technology to Turkey, said these sensors are used by Turkish TB2 Bayraktar combat drones, allowing them to see what's happening on the ground day and night, in all weather conditions.

Armenia has accused Turkey of using TB2 Bayraktar combat drones left behind in Azerbaijan following recent joint exercises to pummel Armenian forces from the air, collect intelligence and direct artillery and missile fire at both military positions and civilian infrastructure.

Armenia also has accused Turkey of redeploying fighters from Syria to support Azerbaijani forces. Turkey has denied sending people or arms to the conflict.

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