Turkey downs Syrian helicopter in border region
By Fulya Ozerkan, AFPANKARA -- Turkey said it had downed a Syrian military helicopter that violated its airspace on Monday, in a move Damascus said was aimed at heightening tensions between the former allies.
September 18, 2013, 12:11 am TWN
The Syrian MI-17 helicopter was detected two kilometers (1.2 miles) inside Turkish airspace and shot down five minutes later after failing to heed warnings, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told reporters.
“It was continuously warned by our air defense but as the violation continued, it fell on Syrian soil at 2:25 p.m. (1125 GMT), having been hit by missiles from our planes,” which took off from their base in the eastern province of Malatya, he said.
Arinc added that there was no information about the fate of its crew because the helicopter fell on Syrian soil.
Syria's army hours later confirmed the helicopter had been shot down by Turkey, accusing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of trying to “escalate” tensions between the two countries.
Arinc said that Turkey has changed its military rules of engagement in response to repeated gunfire from the Syrian side towards the border areas in recent months.
In a statement posted on its website, the Turkish military said the Syrian helicopter was detected when it was 26 nautical miles away from its airspace and was warned until it was five nautical miles away.
“Despite that, the Syrian helicopter kept on approaching the Turkish airspace,” the army said, adding that it violated the airspace in the vicinity of the Guvecci border post, while it was flying at an approximate altitude of 14,200 feet.
One of the two patrolling Turkish F-16 jets shot down the helicopter which fell almost one kilometer inside Syrian territory, according to the army.