Ankara, Oct 5: Turkey intercepted a Russian warplane that violated its air space near the Syrian border and forced it to turn back, Turkey’s foreign ministry said on Monday.
“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,” the ministry said in a statement.
According to the ministry, the Russian SU-30 breached Turkish airspace for hundreds of metres in the district of Yayladagi in Hatay province for two minutes at 12:10 p.m. on October 3, but returned to Syrian airspace after one warning, Hurriyet Daily News reported.
The ministry summoned Russian ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov and strongly protested the violation, the statement said. Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu called his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, to lodge a protest. However, Russian authorities said that the violation of Turkish airspace was due to a navigation error. Russia has been carrying out air strikes in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad.
The Russian air campaign began on September 30 with Moscow insisting it was targeting Islamic State (IS) positions. But Syrian activists said Russian planes have also targeted other Syrian groups opposed to President Assad. Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the Russian intervention in Syria as a grave mistake that would further isolate Moscow.