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NATO, Turkey slam Russia airspace 'breaches'

October 6, 2015

Ankara has summoned Moscow's envoy after another apparent breach of its airspace by a Russian military plane. The move comes as Russia faces mounting international criticism for its military intervention in Syria.

Russian war plane in Syria
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/A. Kots

Turkey's foreign ministry summoned the Russian ambassador for the second time, following accusations that a Russian fighter jet again violated its air space while flying along the Syrian border. The head of NATO also took aim at Moscow for the violations.

The incident ocurred on Sunday and the ambassador was summoned on Monday afternoon, a Turkish official told the German news agency dpa.

It is the second time Russia has been accused by Turkey of violating its air space. The first violation ocurred on Saturday, drawing a stern warning from Turkey that such violations, should they continue, might be met with reprisals. Turkey has NATO's second-largest standing army.

Russia confirmed that the first incident took place, blaming the incursion on a navigation error in poor weather conditions. Moscow says it is looking into the most recent allegation, Reuters news agency reported.

The incidents drew criticism from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who in a press conference on Tuesday expressed doubt the violations were unintentional.

"I will not speculate on the motives...but this does not look like an accident and we have seen two of them," he said.

Russia began air strikes in Syria last week. Though the government claims it is targeting the terrorist organization known as "Islamic State," the intervention has raised concerns for many in the international community who claim that Russia is striking other targets, including what the West often refers to as the "moderate opposition" to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

On Monday, NATO members called on Russia to "immediately cease its attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians" in a written statement.

blc/msh (dpa, Reuters, AP, AFP)