Last updated: 25 March, 2014

Tensions running high on Turkey-Syria border

Tensions are running high on the Turkey-Syria border following the shooting down of a Syrian warplane by Turkish forces at the weekend, the Turkish army said Tuesday.

The military reported a dozen incidents involving its aircraft and Syrian anti-aircraft defences on Monday alone.

“During one mission… five F-16 jets were followed by anti-air missiles… deployed by Syria, which were locked on our aircraft for 10 minutes, 53 seconds,” it said in a statement.

Local media also reported that Turkey has deployed specialist elite units on the border.

Damascus accused Ankara of “flagrant aggression” after the plane was shot down and crashed on Syrian territory on Sunday as Syrian loyalists and rebels battled for control of a frontier crossing.

Ankara said the jet had flown into its territory, with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warning of a “strong response” if Syria violated its airspace again.

Last year, Turkish fighter jets shot down a Syrian helicopter which Ankara said had flown two kilometres (over one mile) into Turkish airspace.

Turkey changed its rules of engagement after one of its combat planes was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft in June 2012.

Resolutely hostile to the Damascus regime, Turkey is currently providing refuge to more than 750,000 Syrian refugees who have fled the conflict in their country.