Turkey says Russian warplane violated its air space near border with Syria

Two F-16 jets were scrambled to intercept a Russian warplane violated Turkish airspace near the Syrian border on Saturday, Oct 3, 2015.
Two F-16 jets were scrambled to intercept a Russian warplane violated Turkish airspace near the Syrian border on Saturday, Oct 3, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

ISTANBUL (Reuters/AFP) - A Russian warplane violated Turkish airspace near the Syrian border on Saturday (Oct 3), prompting the Air Force to scramble two F-16 jets to intercept it, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday (Oct 5).

The Russian jet infringed Turkish airspace at 12.08pm local time on Saturday south of the Yayladagi region in Turkey's southern Hatay province, according to the Foreign Ministry.

"The Russian aircraft exited Turkish airspace into Syria after it was intercepted by two F-16s from the Turkish Air Force, which were conducting patrols in the region," it added.

The Foreign Ministry summoned Moscow's ambassador to protest the violation, according to an e-mailed statement.

It demanded that "any such violation not be repeated", otherwise Russia "will be responsible for any undesired incident that may occur."

Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu called his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to convey Ankara's unease, the statement said.

He also made telephone conversations with counterparts from Nato allies, as well as Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg, the ministry said.

Britain's ambassador to Ankara Richard Moore said Russia's incursion into Turkish airspace was "reckless and worrying". "UK, and its other NATO Allies, stand shoulder to shoulder with Turkey," he wrote on Twitter.

Russia launched air strikes last week against forces opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia and Turkey have long been at odds over the crisis in Syria, with Moscow emerging as Mr Assad's key international backer and Ankara urging his ouster as the only solution to the conflict.

Turkey has labelled Russia's bombing campaign in Syria as "unacceptable", with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warning that Moscow was making a "grave mistake".

Mr Erdogan on Saturday urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to reconsider Moscow's bombing campaign, accusing the Russian military of turning a blind eye to the killing of dozens of civilians.