Erdogan justifies Turkish military’s downing of Syrian helicopter

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has justified the downing of a Syrian helicopter by military, describing it as ‘necessary.’

“The Turkish Armed Forces did what’s necessary,” Erdogan told a press conference on Tuesday, defending the military’s downing of the helicopter.

He went on to say that the Turkish government has briefed the army on the military rules of engagement toward Damascus and authorized its military “in certain areas.”

“We have publicized that those rules will be invoked in such circumstances like border violations,” Erdogan said.

On Monday, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told reporters that a Syrian MI-17 helicopter was downed over the southern province of Hatay after it strayed two kilometers into Turkish airspace.

The Syrian army confirmed the downing of the helicopter in a televised statement on Tuesday, saying, the helicopter was “targeted directly by Turkish warplanes.”

The statement further described Turkey’s move in downing the helicopter as “hasty,” adding that the Erdogan government is trying to escalate tensions with such a move.

“Given that the helicopter was on its way back and that it was not on a combat mission, the hasty Turkish reaction is proof of the true intentions of Erdogan’s government towards Syria, which are to create tension and escalate the situation at the border between the two countries,” it added.

The statement also noted that the military helicopter was “lost… while it was on a reconnaissance mission to monitor the infiltration of terrorists via the Turkish border.”

The shooting happened almost a year after the Syrian air force shot down a Turkish warplane after it entered Syria’s airspace. The plane fell in Syrian waters and near the village of Um al-Touyour.

Ankara, however, insisted at the time that the plane had entered Syrian airspace but quickly left when warned, and was shot down in international airspace several minutes later.

Following this incident in June 2012, the Turkish government changed its military rules of engagement towards Syria. From that time on, every military element that approaches the Turkish border from Syria would be considered as a threat.

By Press TV


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