Turkey summons Russian envoy over airspace violation

Turkey summons Russian envoy over airspace violation
File photo of a F-16 jet

Turkey has summoned the Russian ambassador to protest at the violation of its airspace by a Russian war plane near the border with Syria, the Foreign Ministry said.

The Russian plane violated 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.

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 that have targeted some foreign-backed insurgents. Turkey and Russia also have opposite positions on the Syrian regime, with Russia backing President Bashar Assad and Turkey insisting on his removal.

Last week, Turkey issued a joint statement with its allies involved in the US-backed campaign against the Islamic State group asking Moscow to cease attacks on the Syrian opposition and to focus on fighting the IS.

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, which began on Wednesday, are targeting the Islamic State group 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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