Turkey summoned the Russian ambassador to protest the violation of its airspace by a Russian warplane near the border with Syria over the weekend, and demanded that Moscow avoid future infringements, the foreign ministry said Monday.
The Russian plane violated the Turkey’s airspace near the town of Yayladagi, in Hatay province on Saturday, prompting Turkey to scramble two F-16 jets which intercepted the Russian aircraft and forced it to fly back into the Syrian airspace, a foreign ministry statement said.
In the meeting with the Russian ambassador, Turkey demanded that Russia avoid such violations again and warned that Russia would be held “responsible for any undesired incident,” that may occur, a Turkish foreign ministry statement said. The same message was also relayed to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov by his Turkish counterpart, Feridun Sinirlioglu, in a telephone conversation.
The incident comes as Turkey has expressed concerns over Russian airstrikes in Syria against some foreign-backed insurgents not associated with the Islamic State terror organization, which Russia had said would be its main target. Turkey and Russia also have opposed positions on the Syrian regime, with Russia backing President Bashar Assad and Turkey insisting on his ouster.
Last week, Turkey issued a joint statement with its allies involved in the U.S.-backed campaign against the Islamic State group (ISIL) asking Moscow to cease attacks on the Syrian opposition and to focus on fighting ISIL.
On Sunday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Russian airstrikes were unacceptable and a grave mistake that could alienate Moscow in the region.
Russia says the airstrikes that began Wednesday are targeting ISIL and al-Qaida’s Syrian affiliate, but at least some of the strikes appear to have hit Western-backed rebel factions.
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