Turkey warns Russia over airspace violation

Davutoglu says Russia’s entry into Syria conflict has escalated the crisis as NATO calls meeting of ambassadors.

Frame grab shows a Russian military jet taxiing on runway shortly after the landing in Syria
Russia says the aerial campaign in Syria is aimed against the "terrorist organisations" [Reuters]

Turkey’s prime minister says Russia has described its warplane’s violation of Turkey’s airspace as a “mistake” while calling the country’s entry into the conflict in Syria as an escalation.

Ahmet Davutoglu, speaking in a live interview on HaberTurk TV on Monday, said that Turkey’s rules of engagement were clear, whomever violates its airspace.

A Russian aircraft entered Turkish airspace near the Syrian border on Saturday, prompting Turkey to scramble two F-16 jets to intercept it and summon Russia’s ambassador in protest.

“The Turkish armed forces are clearly instructed. Even it is a flying bird it will be intercepted,” Davutoglu said.

He warned Turkey’s enemies and allies not to infringe its air space but he dismissed the notion of tensions with Russia.

“The Syrian issue is not a Turkey-Russia crisis,” he said.

“Our channels with Russia remain open,” he said hoping that Moscow would give up on “wrong attitudes”.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary-general, said he was convening a meeting of the military alliance’s ambassadors on Monday afternoon to discuss Russia’s “unacceptable violations”. Turkey is one of NATO’s 28 member states.

Turkish warning

Feridun Sinirlioglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, contacted his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, warning him not to repeat similar incidents.

Counting the Cost: How is Russia financing its war in Syria?

Turkey and Russia remain on opposing sides of the conflict, with the latter one of the few allies of President Bashar al-Assad while the former backs a solution excluding the Syrian leader.

Against this backdrop, Syrian activists told Al Jazeera that Russian air strikes had hit areas at the Turkish border in the province of Latakia.

They reported strikes targeted the northwestern village of Bernas and Oubeen and onYamadiya displacement camps.

Russia said the aerial campaign – which began on Wednesday – was aimed against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and other “terrorist organisations”.

But Western officials said Russia was failing to distinguish between ISIL fighters and more moderate rebels in Syria.

Russia has also been accused that many of its strikes led to civilian casualties, a claim that Moscow denies.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies