Turkey has said that a Russian jet violated its airspace near the Syrian border over the weekend. Ankara scrambled fighters of its own and has since summoned Moscow's ambassador.
"The Russian aircraft exited Turkish airspace into Syria after it was intercepted by two F-16s from the Turkish Air Force, which were conducting patrols in the region," Turkey's foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday. The Russian jet was said to have infringed Turkish airspace on Saturday at 12:08 pm (0908 GMT) in Turkey's southern Hatay province.
Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu also spoke with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, and with other NATO countries to convey his country's unease regarding the incident.
Ankara's foreign ministry officials also summoned Moscow's ambassador to register a "strong protest," according to officials.
Ankara urged Moscow not to repeat the violation, failing which it would be held "responsible for any undesired incident that may occur," the official statement said.
Russia began its bombing operations in Syria last week. President Vladimir Putin says Moscow's airstrikes in the country are targeting militants of the "Islamic State," (IS) although western countries accuse Putin of shoring up Syrian President Bashar Assad, his ally, and wiping out so-called moderate rebel forces. Turkey has consistently opposed Assad since the Syrian civil war's start.
Assad says his alliance with Russia and Iran, which has also sent ground troops to help the Syrian regime, is vital to save the region from destruction.
mg/msh (Reuters, AFP)