Syria Accuses Turkey of “Flagrant Aggression” after Jet Downed


Turkish forcesSyria accused Ankara of “flagrant aggression” Sunday after Turkish forces shot down a warplane near the border, raising tensions as Syrian army and militants battled for control of a frontier crossing.

A Syrian military source said Turkey shot down the warplane “in a flagrant act of aggression that is evidence of (Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip) Erdogan’s support for terrorist groups”.

The aircraft “was chasing terrorist groups inside Syrian territory at Kasab”, said the source, referring to the disputed border crossing. The pilot was able to eject.

In a move expected to further exacerbate tensions, Erdogan and Turkish President Abdullah Gul praised Turkey’s military for downing the warplane. Erdogan also warned Syria against any response. “Our response will be heavy if you violate our airspace,” he warned Damascus.

The Turkish military said two Syrian MIG-23 planes approaching its airspace were warned “four times” to turn away and that it scrambled fighter jets when one refused to do so and violated Turkish airspace.

A statement said an F-16 jet fired a missile at the Syrian plane in line with “rules of engagement” adopted after a Turkish warplane was downed by the Syrian air force in June 2012, since when Ankara considers any military approach towards the border a threat.

(Source / 23.03.2014)

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