Turkish air space violations increase since Syrian civil war

Two Turkish F-16 jets shot down a Russian-made Su-24 near the Syrian border on Tuesday after repeatedly warning it over air space violations, Turkish officials have said, but Moscow has claimed that it can prove its jet did not leave Syrian air space and that it was conducting pre-emptive strikes against terrorists in the region.

The civil war that broke out in Syria in 2011 led to an increase in the frequency of Turkish air space violations by Syrian, Greek and most recently, Russian jets and planes, according to diplomatic sources.

Turkey has long criticized the Syrian regime for its deadly response to anti-regime forces, but the dispute took a new turn when Syrian forces shot down an unarmed Turkish jet that Ankara said was on a solo mission to test domestic radar systems in 2012. Syria described its shooting down of the Turkish F-4 jet as an act of self-defense and, while Turkey said the incident would “not go unpunished,” it emphasized that it did not intend to go to war with Syria. Since 2012, Turkish forces have downed a warplane, a helicopter and an unmanned aerial vehicle belonging to Syria.

According to diplomatic sources, in one recent incident, on Nov. 25 F-16 jets belonging to Greece put six Turkish F-16 jets under radar lock for 40 seconds while the Turkish jets were training in international air space over the Aegean Sea. Turkish jets reportedly retaliated in kind. Similarly, Greek F-16 jets also put a radar lock on Turkish jets over the Aegean Sea while they were training and conducting reconnaissance flights on Oct. 7 and 8 and Turkish F-16 jets responded in kind.

Moreover, relations between Turkey and Russia have been strained following the start of air strikes by the Russian military against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other anti-regime groups in Syria in September. The Russian ambassador in Ankara has been repeatedly summoned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry for discussions on incidents of air space violations by Russian jets. The Russian ambassador to Turkey was warned on Oct. 6 over repeated violations of Turkish airspace by Russian warplanes, according to the Turkish Foreign Ministry. The Foreign Ministry statement said Turkey was open to the idea of meeting with Russian military officials in Ankara to discuss measures to avoid a repeat of the violations.


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